Happy Birthday Baruch Lebovits!

Today is Baruch Lebovits' 59th birthday. He's spending it in a New York jail awaiting sentencing for molesting a 16-year-old boy. You have to assume that it will be a particularly gloomy day, since Lebovits faces a maximum 32 years, plus the possibility of a further sentence as he awaits trial for abusing two more boys.

Lebovits' trial was a strange one. But If only cases like his were rare. As I have found in recent months writing for the Jewish Chronicle, sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community is a major problem, one that has been exacerbated by an unwillingness on the part of community leaders to acknowledge and deal with it.

Instead, victims and their families are dissuaded from going to the police, while community leaders continue to protect abusers. The shame of opening this problem up to the wider community is seen as more damaging than the pain inflicted on the abused. Ben Hirsch, who advocates on behalf of victims, has an excellent piece on this subject in this week's Jewish Week.