School Alert on Alleged Molester

by Jewel Topsfield (The Sydney Morning Herald)
August 17, 2011

An Elwood school has written to parents warning it has grave concerns that an alleged child molester continues to have access to its premises.

Security guard David Cyprys was asked to stand down from the board of management of the Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation, a synagogue, while police investigate allegations he sexually abused boys when they were students at Yeshivah College in St Kilda East.

However, in a letter to parents and staff at Yesodei HaTorah College, principal Rabbi Sholom Strajcher said ''the individual concerned'' continued to attend communal religious services at the synagogue, which shares its Dickens Street premises with the school.

''The potential risks involved in this situation are a matter of grave concern to the Yesodei HaTorah Board, staff and parents,'' the letter said.

The letter did not name Mr Cyprys, but said: ''Many of you will be aware that allegations of inappropriate behaviour with young boys at another Jewish school have recently been made against a certain individual associated with the administration of our landlord, Elwood Talmud Torah Congregation.''

Rabbi Strajcher said legal inquiries indicated there was little likelihood of a restraining order being made against ''the individual concerned'' before the police probe was completed and any charges laid.

Sergeant Scott Wells, of the Moorabbin sexual offences and child abuse investigation team, told The Age any person under investigation for any offence was entitled to the presumption of innocence, and was entitled to practise their religion.

The Age was unable to contact Mr Cyprys.

The letter said the school had also held discussions with officials from the synagogue, requesting that they ask the

individual to refrain from attending the site, at least until the allegations had been resolved.

''There is no guarantee of a positive result,'' it said.

In the meantime, Rabbi Strajcher urged rabbis and staff to ensure the individual did not have interaction with any of the boys at the school.

He also said parents must take responsibility for reinforcing child safety guidelines, which he said applied to all boys attending Yesodei HaTorah College, regardless of their age.

A Yesodei HaTorah College parent applauded the school. ''I was happy to receive the letter, knowing that if the individual is on the premises the school is on the alert,'' he said.

Several former Yeshivah College students, including Jewish community leader Manny Waks, have lodged statements with police alleging they were molested by Mr Cyprys, a former security guard at the Yeshivah Centre, who also taught students karate.

Sergeant Wells said that in investigations of this nature, all information provided to police needed to be corroborated where possible. ''It is imperative that a full and thorough investigation is conducted in relation to all allegations made to police, to ensure that we present the best available evidence in any court proceedings.''

In 1992, Mr Cyprys pleaded guilty to indecent assault. No conviction was recorded, but he was fined $1500 and ordered to be of good behaviour.

The victim, who spoke to The Age on the condition of anonymity, said Mr Cyprys had been asked to look after him when he moved to Melbourne in January 1991 to do religious studies at Yeshivah College. The man, who was about 15 at the time, said Mr Cyprys had abused him in the Jewish ritual baths, at his home and in his van.

He said it was ''ridiculous'' that Mr Cyprys was able to access the site occupied by the Yesodei HaTorah College. ''I believe he should be kept away from kids.''