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Updated to include full video of the documentary shown last night

When we look at the recent rash of child sexual abuse and cover up claims, the reports of cover-up date back to the 1980s, 90s, 2001 in the Jerry Sandusky case.  And we might tend to believe that "it was a different time" and that child sexual abuse wasn't fully understood, and that it wouldn't happen today.  

However, just this week a leader of yet another high profile religious organization has been taped telling a victim seeking his counsel "Men Tur Nisht" - which is Yiddish for “people must not tell tales.” He counsels this young man that “The police is not the solution.”

Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, the man who leads the Strictly Orthodox Jewish community in London's Stamford Hill, is the subject of this secretly filmed interview. He is seen telling a man who says he was sexually abused as a child by a member of this community, that he must not report his claim to the police. He says that this is 'Mesira', meaning that it is forbidden for one Jew to report a fellow Jew to the authorities.

One of his congregation comes to him to report that he was sexually abused as a child and the Rabbi's first response is "I imagine I know whom you are talking" and then "If I am correct, we are dealing with this" but provides no details about how.  Next, this young man asks if he should speak to the police about it and the Rabbi immediately says "No - it's Mesira" which means forbidden.  And when the men again presses him on contacting the police, he is told, by his spiritual leader "Men Tur Nisht" - People must not tell tales...

The young man then inquires how can the Rabbi be sure his abuser isn't abusing others and the Rabbi responds "Look, the police also can't assure you.  The police is not the solution."  And later "You shouldn't do anything that can lead to the police."


“The Jewish Community considers the safety and protection of our children as paramount.”
However, just like Penn State, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, et. al., this community decided instead of going to law enforcement, that they would handle it "in house":
Last night [the The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations(UHOC)] released another statement outlining its procedures for dealing with child sex abuse complaints.  It said: “The Orthodox Hebrew Congregations have a special Committee to deal with incidences of attacks of this kind on the children of our congregations. The members of the Committee consist of rabbis, educators and members of the community, among whom there are those who have been trained in the right way to tackle this.

It added: “The Committee which will deal with it [sex abuse complaints] according to the advice of the Rabbinical Court and according to the law of the land.”

The "right way to tackle this?"  

Even after the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, the Jimmy Saville case in the UK, Penn State - never before has child sexual abuse and cover up occupied so much real estated in the media - but even after all of these high profile events, the institutional cover up of child sexual abuse continues.  This isn't something that happened in the 80's or 90's - this conversation happened this week.

Protect the church, protect the pedophile - protect the image - protect the religion - protect the priest/rabbi/pastor -protect the revenue stream - protect the football team - protect the "brand"...

When do we protect the children??

If You Know or Suspect a Child is Being Abused
If you know or suspect that a child is being abused, you should always take it seriously. A good rule of thumb is to assume a “false positive”- in other words, assume that abuse is occurring if you have suspicions, and respond accordingly.

What to Say

(From The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)

•If a child even hints in a vague way that sexual abuse has occurred, encourage him or her to talk freely. Don’t make judgmental comments.
•Show that you understand and take seriously what the child is saying. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have found that children who are listened to and understood do much better than those who are not. The response to the disclosure of sexual abuse is critical to the child’s ability to resolve and heal the trauma of sexual abuse.
•Assure the child that they did the right thing in telling. A child who is close to the abuser may feel guilty about revealing the secret. The child may feel frightened if the abuser has threatened to harm the child or other family members as punishment for telling the secret.
•Tell the child that he or she is not to blame for the sexual abuse. Most children in attempting to make sense out of the abuse will believe that somehow they caused it or may even view it as a form of punishment for imagined or real wrongdoings.
•Finally, offer the child protection, and promise that you will promptly take steps to see that the abuse stops.

What to Do

Report any suspicion of child abuse. If the abuse is within the family, report it to the local Child Protection Agency. If the abuse is outside of the family, report it to the police or district attorney’s office. Individuals reporting in good faith are immune from prosecution. The agency receiving the report will conduct an evaluation and will take action to protect the child.
•Parents should consult with their pediatrician or family physician, who may refer them to a physician who specializes in evaluating and treating sexual abuse. The examining doctor will evaluate the child’s condition and treat any physical problem related to the abuse, gather evidence to help protect the child, and reassure the child that he or she is all right.
•Children who have been sexually abused should have an evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to find out how the sexual abuse has affected them, and to determine whether ongoing professional help is necessary for the child to deal with the trauma of the abuse. The child and adolescent psychiatrist can also provide support to other family members who may be upset by the abuse.
•While most allegations of sexual abuse made by children are true, some false accusations may arise in custody disputes and in other situations. Occasionally, the court will ask a child and adolescent psychiatrist to help determine whether the child is telling the truth, or whether it will hurt the child to speak in court about the abuse.
•When a child is asked to testify, special considerations–such as videotaping, frequent breaks, exclusion of spectators, and the option not to look at the accused–make the experience much less stressful.
•Adults, because of their maturity and knowledge, are always the ones to blame when they abuse children. The abused children should never be blamed.
•When a child tells someone about sexual abuse, a supportive, caring response is the first step in getting help for the child and reestablishing their trust in adults.

Making a Report

Reporting Child Abuse can be difficult. The abuser may be someone you know-a friend, a neighbor, or even a member of your own family. Many people who know or suspect that someone close to them is sexually abusing a child may have a hard time believing it- the person may not seem capable of such a horrible act.

It is important to remember that most child abusers seem perfectly normal. They come from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Most sexual abusers are married and have children of their own. In fact, the majority of sexual abuse actually takes place within the family.

You may also be afraid of making an allegation against someone that turns out to be false. It is important to know that false allegations of sexual abuse are very easily disproven. While there was a wave of very high-profile false allegations in the 1980′s, investigative techniques have improved considerably over the past few decades, and the rate of wrongful convictions for sexual abuse is among the lowest of any crime. If you are afraid of getting into trouble for filing a false report, rest assured that as long as you make a report in good faith, you will not face any kind of legal trouble.

Bottom line-you should always err on the side of protecting the child.

Legal Requirements for Reporting

To find out the requirements for reporting for your state, please check or call ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.  While there are laws in every state that require certain professionals who work with children (i.e. teachers, nurses, daycare providers) some states mandate that ANY adult who suspects a child is being abuse report their suspicions to the proper agency.

TREE Climbers believes that all adults should consider themselves mandatory reporters, and have a moral obligation to protect vulnerable children.

Agencies That Handle Reports of Child Abuse

Two agencies handle most reports of child abuse:

•Child Protective Services (in some states this agency has a different name)-This agency investigates child abuse that occurs within the home
•Law Enforcement- Most law enforcement agencies have specialized units that deal with child abuse, and sexual abuse in particular. Law enforcement should be contacted if you suspect abuse outside of a child’s home.
To find out where to make a report in your state, go to the Child Welfare Information Gateway website ,or call the ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-422-4453.  Depending on what state you live in, you may contact either child protective services or the police.  
Remember that the most important thing is to call! When in doubt, call your local police station, and they will be able to direct you to the right agency.

If the legal system does not provide adequate protection for a child, contact Justice for Children at (713) 225-4357 or

Originally posted to TreeClimbers on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:55 AM PST.

Also republished by House of LIGHTS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (21+ / 0-)

    "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

    by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:55:11 AM PST

  •  And so it continues, reputation before protection (8+ / 0-)

    I'm wondering what British law requires, and whether the rabbi can be prosecuted for aiding and abetting or failure to report child abuse.

    What a disgrace.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:00:26 AM PST

  •  Is the rabbi breaking a law? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roxine, Avilyn

    If child sexual abuse is reported as an adult, must the rabbi report to the police?

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:59:51 AM PST

    •  I am not familiar with UK law, but perhaps someone (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2thanks, Cassandra Waites, zett, Avilyn

      who is can weigh in here.  

      There is a documentary entitled "Britain's Hidden Child Abuse" which is set to air tonight at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 4 in London.  When the full documentary becomes available, I will add it to the diary.  Perhaps they will expand upon the legal issues.

      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:03:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my comment below was based on US law (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roxine, Avilyn

        but here is the actual UK statute on conspiracy

        If this were a US case, my question would be if the statute of limitations had expired; if so, in the US that fact would preclude any prosecution for conspiracy

        •  Thanks for this - I wrote a post a few weeks ago (5+ / 0-)

          regarding a watershed momentfor survivors of childhood sexual abuse that stated in part:

          ...federal judge Frederic Block, in what may be a watershed moment for sexual abuse survivors, ruled in August that portions of the suit could proceed because administrators may have lied when they said they did not become aware of the abuse allegations until 1991.
          Of course, this is in US courts, however, if this stands it could mean a whole host of charges being brought against institutions who systematically covered up allegations of child sexual abuse - particularly in the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Church, et al.  

          Further in that post I provided additional research that says

          Thus, under the doctrine of concealment, the defendant's efforts to conceal the crime by threatening or intimidating the child not to report the sexual abuse justifies tolling of the statute until the concealment has ceased.  The defendant's efforts to conceal the crime are seen to waive his right to the protection of any statute of limitations until he ceases these efforts.  

          "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

          by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:46:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  A fundamental problem that leads to (6+ / 0-)

    setting up years of undiscovered abuse of children by clergy is the fact that parents who raise children in a faith community often tell their children that priests and rabbis and imams are closer to "god"  than other people. They encourage an almost worship status to these religious leaders, which puts a child who is being abused by them in a terrible spot.

    Parents need to tell their kids thats minister, rabbis, priests or whoever is the leader of their religion are just PEOPLE and deserve no more or less respect than any other person and that these people can make mistakes and can also do bad things.  

    The aura of special status and elevated level of respect given to religious leaders should be stopped.  I would never tell my child to call someone "Father" ,  "Your holiness" (Dalai Lama), "Reverand" or any other titles that infer a divine elevation or specialness.

    •  Thank you for this Fishtroller01 - this also (4+ / 0-)

      applies to families.  My abuser was my grandfather - and as children we are taught to respect our adults, etc.

      No one is above reproach when it comes to protecting the most innocent among us.  The effects of childhood sexual abuse are life long (click the link for additional information),

      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:49:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am so sorry that you had to experience this.. (5+ / 0-)

        I have some contact with a local group that represents victims of clergy abuse and have learned much about abuse issues from them.

        What made me think of this was reading about a young boy who was being abused by the priest that his family had over for dinner once a week. His parents considered this man to be a saint and that message got through loud and clear to this boy. So of course he didn't feel he could say anything about the abuse and internalized it as something that he was doing wrong and that he must have deserved this treatment because he was a sinner.

    •  In Judaism it is absurd and completely (5+ / 0-)

      forbidden to say anyone is closer to God than anyone else. The Dalai Lama rejects all claims of divinity. There are religions that promulgate that theory, but others reject it entirely. Judaism and Christianity are entirely different religions and teach vastly different precepts and require much different behaviors.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:28:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your insight into Judaism - what (4+ / 0-)

        this video demonstrates to me is the power our religious leaders have.  Our religious leaders are respected for their opinion and when this member sought Rabi Padwa's counsel, he was told that it was forbidden for him to report it to police and discouraged to do so.  

        Similarly, I wrote about the Catholic Church, and how young men were forced to sign contracts promising not to disclose childhood sexual abuse

        An excerpt:

        And how did the Catholic Church ensure Brendon Boland's continued silence?  They placed his hand on a bible, had him repeat the following and sign a document reading:

        "I Brandon Bolen do solemnly swear that I have told the truth, and the whole truth.  I will speak to no one about this meeting, only to authorized Priests."

        Keep in mind, this isn't about a particular religion - the Boy Scouts and Penn State are not religious organizations - this is about covering up child sexual abuse which, in all cases, is an abuse of power.  A religious leader, regardless of denomination, is in a position of authority; just as the administrators at Penn State , the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America and my parents were...

        "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

        by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:45:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Within every religion there is a faction (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        usually called "fundamentalist" or "orthodox" who exhibit cult like behavior.  You are missing some information if you think that Judaism is exempt from this type of behavior or leader worship.  Any woman who lives in a fundamentalist orthodox sect of Judaism can tell you that what the rabbi says goes and you do not question his interpretation of what the Law says, even if it is personally degrading or dehumanizing.

        Why would the Dalai Lama insist on being called "Your Holiness" rather than by his first name if he doesn't think he is a special human being?  The whole premise of who gets to be in this position is based upon magical testing of childen who are considered "special" inheritors of reincarnated past leaders.  That in and of itself sets the Dalai Lama on a different plane than the rest of us.

        Judaism, Christianity and Islam are three branches of the same tree with its roots in the Abrahamic traditions. They have much in common... the biggest commonality being they think they are chosen, or favored or the most blessed of a "God".  In other words, their common root is arrogance and quite often aggressiveness. All three of these branches have brought misery to this world because of this rooted attitude, and all are very capable of setting up certain humans among their traditions as beyond scrutiny.

        •  I disagree with your religious analysis. (0+ / 0-)

          Where do you think the source of all liberalism and the belief in the sanctity of human life comes from? in the world comes from? But that is neither here nor there. I still maintain that communities that are run with integrity and strong moral and ethical guidelines, are usually better at taking care of their problems than the civil authorities. I hope that does not make me a tea party candidate.

          "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

          by shmuelman on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:44:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please elucidate this comment? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishtroller01, marleycat
            I still maintain that communities that are run with integrity and strong moral and ethical guidelines, are usually better at taking care of their problems than the civil authorities.
            Are you stating that you agree with the Rabbi and that the alleged victim of child sexual abuse should not notify the police?  Or am I misreading you?

            "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

            by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:02:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  My comment is not analysis... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roxine, marleycat

            it is history .... it is world events even now. If you think that the three religions I mentioned are the "source" of liberalism or the belief in the sanctity of life, then I guess you didn't read the texts.  You might want to explain that to the Egyptian children in the Passover story or those caught in the crossfire of land grabbing to form the nation of Israel. You might want to explain that to the victims of the Crusades or the children and pregnant women caught in the crossfire of Jihadism.   In fact, your statement has so small of a relationship to reality, I'm not sure I even needed to address it.

            In these communities that you feel should be shielded from the laws of the larger community of nations, just which "strong moral and ethical guidelines" are you referring to?  Is the rabbi depicted an example of them?

      •  We're not exempt from the tendency (0+ / 0-)

        to elevate people to "holier" status.

        Observe the Lubavitch, if you need a present-day example.

  •  it is a given that religious communities (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roxine, 2thanks, Avilyn, marleycat

    have a right to practice their religion as they please, even to the extent of being allowed to operate their own civil courts dealing in matters such as business disputes and divorce.

    However, I don't think religious freedom includes a religion's right to formulate doctrine which is designed to frustrate law enforcement or to even prevent the reporting of crimes.  We have seen a good many examples of this in recent years, ranging from a sect spiriting a child out of the country to prevent a change in custody, to the Catholic Church's behavior in the pedophile scandals and so on.  The question is at what point will these religious leaders be charged with conspiracy?

    If memory serves, in the Good Old Days, only direct actors could be charged in an offense.  Capone was able to avoid prosecution for decades because he was careful to keep enough layers of underlings between him and the actual crime.  That was why it was the IRS who finally took him down.  Subsequent law did allow for all participants in a conspiracy to be held liable for the actual deed even if they were peripherally involved.  It would seem that religious doctrine which actively exhorts its believers to hide a crime (which is a crime) would meet the requirements of a conspiracy should a crime occur and that crime then be concealed under that doctrine  

  •  T&R (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for reporting, Roxine.  I'll look for the update with the documentary tonight.

    The Girl Who Loved Stories
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:40:57 AM PST

  •  On the subject of mesira ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roxine, marleycat

    ... the prohibition against turning a fellow Jew over to gentile authorities is rabbinic rather than Biblical in origin.  It dates back to times and places when it was virtually guaranteed that the authorities would be brutally, overtly anti-Semitic, and that any Jew accused of any crime would have no chance at all of fair treatment under the law.

    Many Orthodox authorities in the United States have judged that the prohibition against mesira does not apply in this country -- a judgment I tend to agree with.  Some disagree; some say it depends on the nature of the crime; some say it depends on whether or not it is possible to deal with the crime without involving civil authorities.

    In the case of sexual abuse of children, I am of the opinion that concealing the crime does far more harm on every level than prosecuting it under US law could possibly do.

    •  Thank you for shedding more light on mesira (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Batya the Toon, marleycat

      and I agree with your conclusion.

      The only way to stop child sexual abuse is to shine the brightest light possible.  

      That is why I write these diaries - as difficult as they are - as triggering as some can be - because  I have felt complicit in MY silence all those years ago - and now I stand here screaming at the top of my lungs -


      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:22:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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