By Yerachmiel Lopin
August 16, 2012
-no allegation of abuse means nothing since the cameras only covered the hallway not the bedrooms, and the staff of the camp sat in on the police interviews of kids (after they already told the kids to not even report anything to parents)
-The lawyer (who seems MO but comes from a prominent Bobov family) says there wasn't enough time to do anything
-He wasn't a milk delivery person (the original story on KavaShtiebel confused milk company golden flow with appetizer/salad company Golden Taste).
-The lawyer claims he did not have enough time to do anything. Nonsense. Clearly not enough time to groom a kid but plenty of time to touch kids on their genitals.
I am disappointed that YO was not arrested for molesting but I still consider these developments a partial victory.
In spite of an attempt at a cover-up the story came out thanks to the chatter on the Yiddish site KavaShtiebel, the posting and comments on the English Facebook page of Rachmuna U'tzlon, the call to protective services by Survivors for Justice, Shmarya Rosenberg who posted the story on Failed Messiah, VIN which posted a story which generated over a 100 comments, Nuchem Rosenberg whose blog has had a number of valuable postings, and those who helped move the story into mainstream media. A number of unnamed activists also helped advance the investigation.
Albeit 30 hours late, the dayan of Bobov ruled that the camp should report the episode to the police and cooperate. I do not know if this was a good faith act or an attempt to avoid obstruction of justice charges. I don't know if it was done with an expectation of authentic cooperation with the police or with a wink and a nod. But either way it provides halachic cover for the minority of good guys in that system who want to cooperate with the police.
I don't think the police could have arrested Yoel Oberlander for tresspass unless the camp pressed charges. Granted I think the camp was making the best of a bad situation to try and claim nothing serious happened, but still in the past they probably would not have pressed charges.
The true unsung and unnamed heroes of this story are the people inside the camp who covertly rebelled against the cover up by using their cell phones and the dreaded internet to get the story out. Somehow I don't think we have heard the last word from them.
I think the parents of the affected kids and other kids in the camps are not going to be satisfied with the sanitized version that a convicted sex offender wandered the bunks but did nothing. I suspect that now that the cat is out of the bag they will keep on pressing the issue. Even if Oberlander gets away with nothing but trespassing in the court of law, the cover up failed in the court of public opinion.
I think this episode may lead to a shake up in the camp administration. Even if Bobov's motives are not noble they need to retain the confidence of parents. Perhaps next time a new administrator will decide that the safest course of action is prompt reporting.
One can always hope that, as Ben Hirsch said in the Post article, that a witness will come forward. If so, the Bobov cover up artists may be in for some nasty publicity and maybe even the nastier experience of time in jail for obstruction of justice.