Rav Yisroel Belsky: Why contrary to the Kolko case he says to report abuse to police without any requirement to consult a rav first!

By Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn (Daas Torah blog)
June 8, 2013

[Update: Sunday June 9 - Rabbi Shmuel Goldin (president of the RCA responds]

The following letter appears on the RCA website with the clear unambiguous statement to go to the police in cases of known or credible evidence of abuse. Of critical importance - it doesn't state that this is conditional on first consulting a rav. Statements such as this by a posek of Rav Belsky stature as well as the RCA are welcome and help clarify the haze that was created by the various conflicting statements of Agudas Israel and others on this matter.

The obvious question is, why in the recent Kolko case did Rav Belsky publicly state that going to the police was mesira while in this letter he states that one should go to the police - without mentioning consulting a rav first. Furthermore the victim's father only went to the police after going to beis din. And only after Kolko stopped the treatment required by the beis din and Rav Sternbuch poskened that he go to the police - only then did he do so. Despite this known chain of events - Rav Belsky still labeled the victim's father a moser! Why? Click link for other documents in Kolko case

The obvious answer is that despite Kolko confession in court - Rav Belsky knows that Kolko is innocent because of his own investigation into the matter. This is similar to the statement of Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein that only rabbis know whether a person is innocent or guilty - not the police and not psychologists. I would also conjecture that both Rav Belsky and Rav Zilberstein would agree with the recent pronouncements of Rabbi Handler that one should always consult gedolim since they have divine assistance in these matters - something which is obviously not available to the police or psychologists. (Of course it is important to note Rav Belsky's earlier letter not only says Kolko was innocent but that the father of the victim was the abuser - which if made by a lesser figure would clearly constitute a vicious slander since there is absolutely no evidence to support the accusation.) All this would seem to imply that - since Rav Belsky and Rav Zilberstein apparently view themselves infallible in their judgements - Yosef Kolko's confession constitutes kefira by implying that Rav Belsky made a mistake. Perhaps Rav Belsky was mochel because he felt that Yosef Kolko only confessed because he thought it would save himself from a longer prison sentence.

Thus we are faced with a disturbing question. If we are to rely on Rav Belsky's infallibility then why is he telling people to go to the police - without first going to a rav? If he is not infallible then we are faced with an incredible chilul hashem made by one of the greatest American poskim - who not only mistakenly declared a pedophile innocent but has greatly compounded the problem by slandering the father and causing him to be driven out of Lakewood. Rav Belsky apparently alludes to this confusion about his true position when he states in his letter, "though some of misunderstood my position". However I fail to see a rational resolution of the apparent contradictions in Rav Belsky's statements. Perhaps somebody can enlighten me in this matter. Hopefully the RCA will issue a clarification to prevent severe damage not only Rav Belsky's credibility but that of the RCA.
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If you share my confusion please respectfully send a copy of this post to the OU and RCA

I just sent the following message:

I have been involved for a number of years dealing with various aspects of child abuse and have published three seforim dealing with the subject under the guidance and encouragement of Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlita. One of the most problematic issues is that of mesira and one of the most troubling cases is that of the recent Yosef Kolko case. Even more troubling is the reported actions of Rav Yisroel Belsky shlita - especially when they seem to be contrary to the stated position of the RCA.

I just wrote a post on my blog Daas Torah regarding Rav Yisoel Belsky's views on reporting child abuse to the police. http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2013/06/rav-yisroel-belsky-why-contrary-to.html

I respectfully request an explanation of how Rav Belsky's actions in this case are consistent with the accepted halacha regarding mesira as well as the RCA guidelines in reporting child abuse to the police?

kol tuv,

Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.
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Rav Belsky's letter in defense of Yosef Kolko which circulated Lakewood [click link for Hebrew]

My ears should have been spared hearing the horrific news that one of your fellow residents in town informed upon a fellow Jew to the hands of the secular authorities,may god spare us,for which the [Jewish]law is undisputed that one who commits such an act has no share in the world to come. (see:Choshen Mishpat 388:4)After conducting a thorough investigation I am absolutely certain that R' Y.K.[Yosef Kolko],may his light shine, is perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing of any nature whatsoever. And not only is he innocent but it is also as cleartone that all these allegations are fabrications made by [REDACTED].

Further, all the reports made to the secular authorities were only for the express purpose of casting blame for their[the victim's family] own shameful and cursed existence on others. And the truth is that the allegations they make against others are crimes they themselves are in fact guilty of and they seek to cleanse their reputation by blaming an innocent man for their own deeds.

Accordingly, as it is a great mitzvah to rescue the pursued from the hands of the pursuer and to make it known that the righteous man is right and the evil man is evil-to rescue a pure and righteous soul. Therefore, anyone who has the ability to rescue the righteous and does not do so is considered as if he is himself the pursuer. (See: Rambam - laws regarding informing 1: 14) Thus, all who have the ability to influence the informers that they should retract their terrible deeds
should do so.

Rav Belsky's recent letter posted on the RCA web site: