Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools Publicize Their Official Policy on Dealing With Sexual Abuse:
Sexual Abuse Cases Must Be Reported to Rabbis
Ohel Responds to the Jewish Week Article -
The Jewish Week Replies

Dear Friend,

Ohel Children's Home and Family Services has run a full page ad defending its policy to "treat and release" unreported sexual abusers as being "technically legal." (See: The Jewish Week Has it Wrong Again, Ohel Responds to Jewish Week Article). The fact that Ohel, a community social services agency, uses a legal loophole to protect the anonymity of unreported predators--a practice which allows these offenders continued access to children--is an outrage.

Ohel has chosen to respond to last week's Jewish Week article (see: Abuse Case Tests Ohel's Adherence to Reporting Laws) with ad hominem attacks and obfuscation instead of addressing the serious issues raised. Jewish Week Editor, Gary Rosenblatt makes this point in his blog post addressing Ohel's response. (See: Jewish Week to Ohel: Where's the Beef?) In its reply to Ohel's response, the Jewish Week notes that Ohel actually stepped over the line of "technically legal" and violated clear laws which obligated it to report disclosures made by a mother that she was abusing her son. Ohel adhered to its policy and did not report. The article reports that "the 5-year-old boy at the center of last week's article was removed from his family's home nearly two years ago shortly after his mother, who suffered a nervous breakdown, was admitted to a hospital in the tristate area. At the hospital, according to sources, the mother disclosed the abuse and the hospital staff reported the case to ACS." (See: Ohel Says Jewish Week Accusations 'Unfounded'.)

Cases alleging abuse that involve Ohel date as far back as the 1970s (Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz) to current (Emanuel Yegutkin). Ohel worked closely with Mondrowitz for years and chose not to inform the community when it received complaints of Mondrowitz's conduct. Instead the agency quietly asked him to end his association with Ohel.

Ohel treated Yegutkin after he was discovered abusing boys in a summer camp, over five years ago. Yegutkin was offered a deal by certain rabbis: get treatment at Ohel OR be reported to the authorities. Ohel calls this its "carrot and stick" approach. Not surprisingly, Yegutkin chose treatment at Ohel, was not reported to law enforcement and subsequently worked as a life guard at a major summer camp and a principal at a local high school. It was not until his arrest that the community was alerted to the danger he posed. Ohel did not share with the camp or the school its knowledge of the clear and present danger Yegutkin presented to the boys entrusted to his care.

This begs a very disturbing question: How many other unreported predators has Ohel released into the community?

We call upon Ohel to find another "technically legal" loophole and immediately find a means of reporting these predators to law enforcement. Using legal technicalities to endanger children is not appropriate behavior for a community social services agency. By providing an alternative to law enforcement Ohel allows dangerous predators to continue harming children. The advocate community calls upon Ohel's board to immediately put an end to this dangerous practicewhich poses a clear and present danger to children in our community and beyond.

 

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In the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

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Established halacha (Jewish Law) places a pedophile in the category of rodef (an imminent threat), in part due to a recidivism rate well in excess of 50-percent. In his 2004 psak (ruling) on this issue, Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv writes that one should report those who sexually abuse children directly to the police and that doing so is of benefit to society. Click here to read a partial translation of this ruling.

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