By Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn (Daas Torah blog)
August 22, 2011
I recently met with some rabbis who have had extensive experience dealing with abuse issues in the frum community. The following is one of the stories that they told me regarding rabbinic incompetence dealing with abuse. The incompetent rabbis that were described are not community or shul rabbis but are genuine gedolim They had sufficient funds and access to experts who would have informed them that they should have called the police. However they relied on their own judgment and a disaster resulted. This is the story - with identifying details removed.
There was a promising bochur. He was intelligent and diligent in his studies and handsome. He also had good midos and came from a distinguished family. He had only one problem - he was a pedophile. He had abused over a hundred children by the time he was 24 years old. When this was brought to the attention of seniors rabbis at the major yeshiva where he studied, they came up with what they thought was a brilliant solution to his problem. They arranged and encouraged a match with an orphan girl. It was the perfect match they thought. She got a real catch and he would now be able to manage his sexual appetite with his wife - rather than with little children. They picked an orphan because she would not be able to do serious back ground checking and would have to rely on the advice of these gedolim. Of course she wasn't told about his problem - after all that would be lashon harah. Since they "knew" that the problem would be solved by marriage there obviously wasn't any reason to mention to her that this young man had destroyed the life of 100 children. They also didn't bother checking with a psychologist with expertise with pedophiles - after all what does a psychologist know?
Of course the young lady was ecstatic that gedolim had taken such a personal interest in her and she was overwhelmed with gratitude that the great men had devoted time and energy for her - a nobody but with a lot of emunas chachomim. It was just like the Artscroll stories that she read every Shabbos about great tzadikim. The marriage seemed to be in fact the solution to the problem. The young couple was very happy They eventually had several children. Unfortunately however the young man still had his perverted lusts which did not go away with marriage. This was something that anybody with even a minimum knowledge of pedophiles would have predicted.
Periodically there were rumors of his activity but his wife didn't understand why she was treated coldly by the neighbors. The senior rabbis suggested that they move to Brooklyn where they would be able to start life fresh. The wife still didn't know her husband's problem - but the new neighbors did not know either because the rabbis knew that if they informed anybody the young couple would not get a chance for a new life. Unfortunately, the change of neighborhood did not help his condition. This time however she found out the hard way - by a visit from the police who were investigating charges against him for abusing children. As you may imagine she was traumatized. Not only was her husband a destroyer of children, but she had been betrayed by gedolim. In addition she feared for the safety of her own children. But what could she do - she had no family or friends and she had no money to pay for advice or a divorce.
Fortunately the rabbi who told me about this tragedy found out about this horror story and successfully raised money for the divorce. He even got one of the gedolim to write a letter to aid in fund raising because that gadol humbly acknowledged that he had made a serious mistake!