Abuse Case Tests Ohel's Adherence to Reporting Laws
Dear Friend,As the story of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community has unfolded over the last several years, the issue of when, and even whether, to report such allegations to law enforcement has emerged as perhaps the most important and the most complicated.
One of the focal points of this debate has been Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. Ohel has earned high praise in the community for the services it provides for foster children. However, many advocates and observers accuse the agency of functioning in a way that does more to protect the reputation of the community than the safety of its children.
An examination by The Jewish Week reveals the complicated tension that counselors and higher-ups at Ohel must grapple with when faced with the question of whether or not to report suspected abuse.
In the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."
Established halacha (Jewish Law) places a pedophile in the category of rodef (an imminent threat), in part due to a recidivism rate well in excess of 50-percent. In his 2004 psak (ruling) on this issue, Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv writes that one should report those who sexually abuse children directly to the police and that doing so is of benefit to society. Click here to read a partial translation of this ruling.