The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has lambasted the leadership at Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne, with a report released yesterday finding allegations prompted little, if any, action and perpetrators were allowed to remain associated with the Chabad organisations.
The commission found there was strong evidence victims had been discouraged from reporting abuse because of the way halachic (Jewish law) principles were applied, including prohibitions on informing on other Jews to secular authorities.
It found Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, who led Melbourne’s Yeshivah community until his death in 2008, had ignored multiple reports of abuse by pedophiles David Cyprys and Rabbi David Kramer, with other rabbis also publicly discouraging victims from speaking out.
“Criticism of those who spoke out was forceful,” the commission said.
“There was a marked absence of supportive leadership for survivors of child sexual abuse.”
The commission singled out a formerly senior figure at Yeshiva Bondi, Rabbi Yosef Feldman, who resigned from his role as a director on Yeshiva’s board of management following his testimony.
It noted that neither he nor his father, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, had taken steps to inform anyone that a rabbinical student accused of molesting was thinking of leaving the country, saying they didn’t believe an obligation existed to inform police.
The Yeshivah board in Melbourne yesterday said it deeply regretted its failure to protect the children abused at its schools.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said they would continue to seek changes to address a “systemic failure”.