Child sex probe 'should include strictly Orthodox'

By Sandy Rashty (The Jewish Chronicle)
April 14, 2016

A leading campaigner has called for a major inquiry into child sex abuse in England and Wales to investigate strictly Orthodox community institutions.

Australian Manny Waks, who was abused at a yeshivah in Melbourne, said the independent Goddard Inquiry should "seriously consider" looking at Charedi schools.

The inquiry, examining how public bodies protect children from abuse, is due to look at alleged activity across religious groups including the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

But in a letter to Dame Lowell Goddard, chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), Mr Waks called for her to investigate "at least a segment of the Jewish community" in her probe.

He wrote: "While child sexual abuse occurs in every segment of society, the context of the abuse, the response by the institution and community, and other factors differ to some degree.

"In the past few years, there have been numerous reports of troubling incidents within the UK Jewish community; more specifically, within the Charedi community there."

An IICSA spokeswoman said that in addition to the investigations into the Catholic and Anglican churches, "we will also be conducting research into child sexual abuse in other faith communities, which may or may not lead to further inquiries. If decisions are made to investigate other faith communities, we will make an announcement at that time".

Mr Waks, who set up global anti-abuse group Kol v'Oz, noted that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, as well as organisations including Migdal Emunah, Shema Koli, Reshet and the Board of Deputies had backed the fight against child sex abuse in the community.

Former teacher Todros Grynhaus, the son of a rabbi, was last year convicted of sexually abusing two children. He was initially referred for therapy and not reported to police.

In 2013, Menachem Mendel Levy was jailed for sexually abusing a teenage girl, who was ostracised by her community after reporting the crime.

A Channel Four documentary, also in 2013, showed strictly Orthodox leaders advising victims to let their abusers be dealt with by the community, rather than by the police.