Letter to the Editor - Ohel Not to Blame

The Jewish Week
March 18, 2011

As regards your article entitled, "Abuse Case Tests Ohel's Adherence To Reporting Laws" (Feb. 25), I would like to convey what I believe is an egregious assertion by The Jewish Week.

You assert that Ohel has put children at serious risk "by treating known sexual abusers who have not been reported to law enforcement and whose proclivities are protected from being made public by confidentiality laws, should they drop out of treatment."

This is seemingly malicious.

The problem in our community, as in many others, is that many victims of abuse or their parents wrongfully decide not to report the matter to the authorities (though this is thankfully changing). By doing so, they may "protect their name" but they of course endanger the lives of others.

As I understand, Ohel was simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. That is, offering at least a treatment program to alleged offenders who would otherwise receive no treatment at all. Yes, it was only voluntarily — because these individuals were tragically not tried or convicted or on any watch list. This was not Ohel's doing, but a legal reality.

As such, when such an individual left such a treatment program, Ohel had no legal recourse, unfortunately. I am sure they would have jumped at an opportunity to warn a community, but they, like any other social service agency, were bound by HIPAA [privacy] regulations etc.

In a piece that Ohel submitted to your publication some years ago, I believe, they themselves acknowledged that the systems of reporting that all social service organizations have to adhere by were not perfect and welcomed expanded mandatory reporting laws.

Neil Kantor