By Jewel Topsfield (The Age)
May 8, 2012
One of Australia's leading rabbis told a man whose son had been allegedly sexually abused by a youth group leader at a Melbourne Jewish school that the child would not need counselling because he was under eight years old, court documents say.
David Samuel Cyprys, a former security guard at the Yeshivah Centre in St Kilda East, has been charged with 53 offences, including six counts of rape, allegedly committed against 12 boys between 1982 and 1991.
He is contesting the allegations at a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
In court documents, the parents of two separate boys said they went to Yeshivah Centre director Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner in the 1980s to complain about alleged molestation.
The parents of both boys said no action was taken, with one woman saying her son was abused for another three years after her complaint.
One father said he told Rabbi Groner in 1984 that Cyprys had ''interfered'' with his son. '' He told me that [the boy] wouldn't need counselling because [he] was under eight years old,'' the man said in a statement.
''Rabbi Groner told me he had spoken to psychologists before and they had told him because the children are so young counselling would not be necessary. Since that day I never heard another word.''
The mother of another boy said she called Rabbi Groner in 1987 after being ''shocked out of my brain'' to learn of alleged abuse of her son.
''I recall when I mentioned David Cyprys' name to Rabbi Groner he replied, 'Oh, no, I thought we cured him'. By this I was sure that Rabbi Groner meant this sort of thing had happened before with David Cyprys,'' the woman said in a witness statement.
Rabbi Groner, who was Melbourne's most senior Chabad rabbi, died in 2008.
The court documents say Cyprys, who owns a locksmith business, has been affiliated with the yeshivah for many years. He was employed as a security guard, was a co-leader of a Jewish youth group there and was a martial arts instructor who recruited students from the school.
Cyprys, 44, of Balaclava, also supervised young males at the mikvah baths attached to the Yeshivah Centre, which are used for the spiritual cleansing of Jewish males.
''The accused was seen as a role model by members of the Jewish community who trusted him in the company of their children,'' the summary of charges says.
The alleged victims, who were aged between seven and 17, say they were abused by Cyprys at locations including the mikvah bath house, Elwood houses, his van, Gan Israel youth camps and Yeshivah College.
''He was known as the 'key master'. People knew this, and still do, and we were afraid of his reputation as being able to access everybody's houses and also because of his martial arts prowess,'' one alleged victim said in his statement.
''Cyprys was never shy about touching up kids. He was never violent, but you were scared, because he had the keys to everything, and he was a black belt at karate.''
Another alleged victim said Cyprys was ''a lot bigger and stronger than me at the time''. ''He had me pinned and cornered. I felt sick to my bones and wanted to die, I was so afraid.''
The man said that in the US, paedophiles in the Jewish community were reported to the police and dealt with accordingly. ''For some reason, the Jewish community in Melbourne covers things up,'' he said in his statement.
Rabbi Abraham Glick, who was the principal of Yeshivah College between 1986 and 2007, said he had no recollection of any child or parent making a complaint to him about Cyprys molesting children.
''More recently it became known that the students did talk about David allegedly molesting children, but amongst the children there was a code of keeping this in 'their world','' Rabbi Glick said in his statement.
''The children did not discuss these issues with adults.''
Rabbi Glick, who still teaches at Yeshivah College and is the head of student wellbeing, said ''attitudes at the time were very different to current attitudes''.
''In those times it was a general practice that parents would not discuss these type of issues with anyone other than Rabbi Groner in his capacity as rabbi of the community and director of the colleges.''
The committal hearing is continuing before Magistrate Luisa Bazzani.