To The Editor:
My comments regarding Ohel’s record on childhood sexual abuse (“Has the Silence Been Broken?” Oct. 29, 2010) have placed me on the receiving end of some strong criticism.
I stand by my statement and maintain that Ohel's history of dealing with sexual abuse is dismal. Skilled publicity and slick lawyering do not legitimize a community organization. Caring, competence and integrity do. Ohel’s leadership sacrificed the latter when they veered off mission and created their “Offender Treatment Program,” in which they decided to treat known sex offenders who came to them not from the courts, but through certain rabbis seeking to avoid reporting these predators to law enforcement. In so doing, they created a clear and present danger to both our community and society at large.
That Ohel now seeks to polish their badly tarnished image by rewriting history and taking credit for the work of others merely adds insult to injury. Sadly, much remains to be written on this subject.
Our community has a right to demand that Ohel report to the civil authorities predators it protected who are today preying on children in our schools, summer camps, mental health and medical organizations, etc. No one expects Ohel to violate rules of confidentiality. Likewise, no one expects Ohel to violate the laws requiring them to report to the authorities predators who pose a grave dangers to our children.
That Ohel hides behind their distorted interpretation of HIPAA rules is a travesty. That our children suffer the repercussions of this deplorable behavior is a crime.
Ben Hirsch is the president of SFJ, an organization whose mission to provide community education and advocate on behalf of victims of childhood abuse and their families began in 2005.