Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nothing changes

by Lurker

If Motti Elon's claims are to be believed, then they directly imply the following:
  1. The members of the Takana committee that has been handling his case -- which include such diverse and distinguished individuals as R. Yaakov Ariel, R. Aharon Lichtenstein, R. Avi Gisser, Rabbanit Yehudit Shilat, R. Elyakim Levanon, R. Yuval Cherlow, and Prof. Yedidya Stern -- are all involved in a giant malicious conspiracy to "blackmail" Elon (his words).

  2. Because of nothing more than a lone, unsubstantiated allegation from one single "seriously disturbed" individual, Elon agreed to resign as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel, abandon all rabbinic duties, withdraw from public life, move out of Jerusalem, and go went into self-imposed "exile" in a yishuv up north.
Both of these propositions are stupendously preposterous beyond belief. Only a very naive fool could possibly take either one seriously.

The great irony here is that while Elon would have us believe that the members of Takana are engaged in a giant conspiracy to destroy him, the truth seems to be the exact opposite: The members of Takana engaged in a giant conspiracy to protect him. Rather than go public with the information they had four years ago, Takana foolishly opted to keep the truth a secret, so as not to air the dati leumi community's dirty laundry in public. To that end, they made a "deal" with Elon, in which they promised to keep things under wraps, in exchange for Elon moving to some outlying yishuv, and promising to "be good" from now on. In making this reprehensible "deal", Takana became guilty of criminal negligence. Why are Elon's new victims up north less worthy of protection than the ones in the Jerusalem area?! Because they are less likely to be heard or noticed? Why were they willing to take the risk of assuming that Elon -- whom they already recognized as a repeat sex offender and a liar -- would keep his word, instead of continuing to abuse people? In the privacy of the outlying yishuv that Elon fled to, far away from from the intense spotlight of Takana in the center of the country, it was certainly much easier for Elon to continue his predatory behavior. And now we know that he did exactly that.

By engaging in this sort of "not in my backyard" cover-up, the members of Takana showed that they have learned nothing whatsoever from the many similar cases of rabbinic sexual abuse that have preceeded this one. Habitual sexual predators always repeat their pathological behavior. The people who bear the brunt of the responsibility for Elon's victims over the last four years are the committee members themselves.

Not at all surprsingly, other victims are now starting to come out with their stories:

New harassment claims against Rabbi Elon

As someone who closely followed the Baruch Lanner scandal for two decades, I find this entire scandal nauseatingly familiar:
  • The shameful cover-up to protect the sexual predator and the community.

  • The inevitable recidivism of the predator.

  • The publicization of the facts only after the cancer has metasasized into something too outrageous to ignore.

  • The victims who finally find the courage to speak up only after (and because) the scandal has become public knowledge.

  • The cruel demonization of the predator's hapless victims.

  • The crowds of blind groupies living in group denial, ready to defend the predator regardless of the facts or the cost for future victims.
It's the same story every single time -- Lanner, Kolko, Weinberg, Gafni, et al. -- and now Elon.

The members of Takana thought that if they tried to handle the problem "quietly", then it would just "go away". This, in spite of the fact that this irresponsible approach has never worked, and has proven itself a tragic failure repeatedly. The end is always the same. The Takana members bear no less guilt than Elon himself.

It's like reliving the same awful horror movie over and over again.


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49 comments:

jonathan becker said...

>"this irresponsible approach has never worked.."

i disagree. i think this approach has worked very well in the past, before the t.v. cable explosion and specifically before the proliferation of bloggers. the rabbonim, as is indeed their wont, are just slow to embrace change. more than that, they resist it. so yeah, this "irresponsible approach" isn't going to work anymore, that's for sure. but we know for a fact that it's been extremely effective for hundreds of years- not just for rabbis, but for popes and politicians and men of wealth and power and influence of every stripe.

having said this, the very existence of a group like takana is proof that our spiritual leaders are not COMPLETELY blind deaf and dumb. they're just...slow.

josh said...

I think you are missing some facts before you came to these conclusions.
Arutz7 has a letter from the Attorney General saying that Takana approached them in 2006 about Elon, and the AG respected this committee, seeing how there was apparently nothing criminal involved but asked that they keep in touch.

The AG representative states that nothing has changed except that Takana again approached them on a few weeks ago to say that Elon was not keeping his side of the deal, and the AG said, ok, but give us any information if there is anything criminal,

http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/200709

Rav Elon apparently volunteered to hush the story but now regrets the limitations.

http://rotter.net/cgi-bin/forum/dcboard.cgi?az=show_thread&om=24071&forum=scoops1&viewmode=all&keywords=%EE%E5%E8%E9%20%E0%EC%E5%EF

I do believe him that the real story will come out now.

AnonymousInIsrael said...

You're not taking a few things into account:

1. Takana claims to be working in a context in which prosecution will not be effective, presumably because of hesitation of the victims to be in the press. In this context, Takana is providing a solution in a situation in which a solution does not otherwise exist.

2. The goal of Takana is apparently not punishment but prevention. Forcing a guilty and repentant party to stay totally out of situations that could lead to problems is exactly what is sometimes effective, e.g., after offenders get out of jail.

Anonymous said...

Lurker, your post makes no sense.
Takana came forward precisely because people in the north were in danger, because Elon didn't keep his word and remain away from children.

Lurker said...

Anonymous: Takana came forward precisely because people in the north were in danger, because Elon didn't keep his word and remain away from children.

To start with, as I stated clearly in my post, habitual sexual predators always return to their predatory behavior. And by "always" I mean "always". If you don't believe me, speak to experts who work in the field.

The members of Takana knew that Elon was a serious danger four years ago. That was the time for them to publicize this information. Not now, after God knows how many other victims have suffered as a result of Takana's silence.

Secondly: Why did they send him up north to start with? By placing a dangerous person into their midst, the members of Takana were directly endangering people there!

Is the Galil not part of the state of Israel? What kind of stupid nonsense is this, sending a sexual predator into "exile" up north? Is the "north" a penal colony like Australia in the 18th century? Why, exactly, are students up north less important and less worthy of protection than students in the center of the country?!

tafka pp said...

Well said Lurker.

Commenter Abbi said...

Sorry, but you're not reading the press release correctly. He his accused of committing acts against "mussar and kedusha". He is not accused of committing criminal or dangerous acts.

The AG knows about this and is not formally getting involved. No one is bringing any indictments, police complaints or lawsuits. I think you're jumping to wild conclusions. I think there are a lot of misunderstandings on all sideshere.

I agree with a talkback on ynet last night. This "scandal" is essentially over. Takana has warned the public. Rav Moti is not going to sue for libel. No one is going to the police or suing Rav Moti. It's a stalemate. Whoever is scared will stay away and his followers will continue to support him.

That's basically it. As I wrote on another blog last night- my husband was in Chorev at the time that this "behavior" was occurring. No one knew about it, there were no rumors running around school, which would be nearly impossible if something really bad was happening. You cannot shut this stuff up. Rumors dogged Lanner for years. The fact that this was a complete and utter surprise to the entire community says a lot.

In contrast, my husband's friends at Netiv Meir, where they really had a problematic rav all knew to stay away from him as far as possible. That rav had "special students" and you didn't want to be one of them.

westbankmama said...

Abbi - your attitude is why people who are hurt by abusers do not come out and complain. You don't "know" that he wasn't abusing students - but you assume what you do because of other factors. You assume that the people complaining are liars because your husband didn't hear rumors???? You assume that it couldn't happen because the accused is a charismatic speaker and teacher??? You simply DON'T WANT to believe because of your own emotional factors. This is exactly why the Forum was put together - so that people who want to warn others can do so without being victimized again by the public that refuses to believe them.

tafka pp said...

Abbi- I don't think this is "over" at all. Not for Takana, and certainly not for R. Elon. Takana was created as an interventionary body to AVOID lawsuits and to allow the religious community to internally deal with sexual abuse- but now that the press is involved and more people are coming forward with additional evidence, unfortunately this could go in any direction. And, I might add, while this must be a stressful and unpleasant ordeal for R. Elon and his family, as is often the case involving a high-profile figure accused of such crimes (religious or not) those choosing to come forward won't have the same support and legions of defenders surrounding them- quite the opposite, in fact.

Whichever way you look at it, this is all very sad.

Wanted to add that my husband was at Netiv Meir for "those" years: And while of course there were rumours about the Rav in question, while some students believed and acted upon them, there were just as many students and teachers who to this day refuse to believe the (now proven) allegations and label the others as liars... People -especially impressionable young people- will always choose to believe what is comfortable for them to believe.

Lurker said...

Commenter Abbi: He his accused of committing acts against "mussar and kedusha". He is not accused of committing criminal or dangerous acts.

That is incorrect. In this interview with R. Yuval Cherlow, he states explicitly that R. Elon has committed "very dangerous acts" (7:10).

He also says that Elon's deeds are "far more severe" than "mere" sexual harrassment, and that the nature of his actions are unambiguous, and "not subject to interpretation" (3:24).

Furthermore, he states that the Takana committee had extensive meetings with R. Elon, in which Elon fully admitted that he had committed the acts in question (1:20).

Channel 2 yesterday broadcast an interview with one of Elon's victims. You can read what he said here. Are you actually trying to argue that the actions he describes do not constitute "dangerous acts"?

Commenter Abbi: The AG knows about this and is not formally getting involved. No one is bringing any indictments, police complaints or lawsuits. I think you're jumping to wild conclusions.

R. Cherlow addressed this as well. The law criminalizes ostensibly "consenual" sexual abuse in cases where an adult perpetrates sexual acts upon a minor, and where a teacher perpetrates sexual acts upon a student (even if the student is not a minor) -- because of the teacher's abuse of his inherent authority over the student. However, current law only recognizes a teacher-student relationship in the context of a student who studies under the teacher in a formally recognized institution. It does not recognize such a relationship in the case of a spiritual mentor whose student/follower is not formally enrolled in an institution. Because of this gap in the law, according to R. Cherlow, the hands of the AG are tied.

But all that is really irrelevant. Why are you judging the severity of the situation on the basis of whether Elon is prosecutable or not under the technicalities of current Israeli law? Is that really the point that should concern us?

If a rabbi were found to be eating pork, and feeding it to his followers, then the entire Orthodox establishment would immediately and unreservedly repudiate the rabbi in question, and publicly warn people to stay away from him. Needless to say, such a rabbi would not be in violation of any law. How much more so should this be true in the case of forbidden acts of the sort that we're discussing:

(1) The transgression is far more severe halakhicly, extending possibly to the realm of hiyuv karet and the requirement of yehareg v'al ya'avor.

(2) The actions have the potential to severely psychologically traumatize and psychologically scar the victim for life.

The Orthodox world claims to regard sexual transgressions very severely. But the truth of the matter is that they really don't. Every time an important rabbi is found to be guilty of such transgressions, there is no shortage of people who insist on look the other way -- even though they would never dream of doing so in the case of less severe transgressions.

I find it particularly galling and ironic that there are countless "frum" Jews who heartlessly condemn innocent people for the imagined "crime" of having homosexual inclinations, to the point of shunning those people from the community -- while at the same time, hypocritically ignoring the behavior of rabbis (e.g., Kolko, Weinberg, Elon) who actually force homosexual acts upon weak, powerless victims.

The priorities and values of a massive segment of the "frum" world are completely screwed up.

Shimon said...

new statement concerning the allegations and how exactly forum "takanah" works.
a must read before further commenting...
http://www.takana.co.il/megera.asp

Shimon said...

Lurker - I think you are being a bit harsh on forum takana - at the very least it does seem to be a step in the right direction.

Lurker said...

Shimon: I think you are being a bit harsh on forum takana - at the very least it does seem to be a step in the right direction.

Granted. In the sense that jonathan becker described above.

Shimon said...

well. that isn't granting very much...

Lurker said...

Commenter Abbi:

One more thing, regarding your claim that Elon "is not accused of committing criminal or dangerous acts". Today, R. Aharon Lichtenstein gave a talk in his yeshiva to his students, in which he revealed that he has been receiving numerous death threats and harrassing phone calls (including one threat that he says came from a relative of Elon). In his talk, R. Lichtenstein explained the considerations that led the Takana committee to go public:

"There was an accumulation of incidents [involving improper behavior by Elon], but all the noise was not raised on account this. It was not because of this that we went to the media. The problem was the very heart of the matter, [that] there were people who were harmed. There were people whose family lives were badly damaged in a very extreme way. People who suffered from an emotional perspective."

Even then, says R. Lichtenstein, Takana chose to send one of their members to Elon, to personally deliver a last warning. This didn't help: Shortly after giving the warning, Takana learned that Elon had perpetrated yet another incident, which Lichtenstein described as extremely severe.

Your insistence that Elon has not been accused of "dangerous acts" certainly does not seem to be well-founded.

Lurker said...

More on the accusations against Elon:

'Elon had sex with male students'
Rabbinical forum: Rabbi Moti Elon admitted to allegation made by more than one person.

chardal said...

>Why did they send him up north to start with?

They didn't send him up north. That was his own move. See their latest statement. I agree they should have publisized this long ago, but I am assuming that they could do little without cooperation from those who complained and I am also assuming that those who complained were not interested in publicity. All in all, they were not as responsible as they should have been but not nearly as irresponsible as your post makes them to be.

Shlomo said...

Lurker, you really have no idea what R' Elon has done, yet without any real evidence you insist that it must be the most extreme and damaging possibility.

The bulk of your argument is based on the fact that R' Cherlow used the words "dangerous" and "severe" to describe what R' Elon did. Yet the same R' Cherlow is a member of Takana who has been involved in handling this particular case. Evidently, he did not consider the case "dangerous" enough to need revealing until now. Do you not see the inconsistency in how you present R' Cherlow's position?

You say that "If a rabbi were found to be eating pork," he would immediately be ostracized. True. But R' Elon was not "found" to have sexually harassed. He was ACCUSED of having sexually harassed, and sometimes people make false accusations, for various reasons. Because of that very possibility, R' Elon's actions are not being prosecuted. Despite that, Takana's recent accusations have likely forever destroyed R' Elon's reputation and career. But that's not severe enough for you. Should any accusation of sexual harassment, from any party, automatically end an educator's career? If that's not your position, then please clarify what is. If that is your position, then please think about the possibility that it may be - no pun intended - abused.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shlomo: I humbly suggest you read the full transcript of R' Aharon Lichtenstein's shiur on the subject. Its very clear and removes much of the ambiguity.

Unlike Lurker, I'm not sure this Takana organization is terrible acting the way it did.

wolfie said...

The claim that all the stories end the same is simply not true. There are numerous stories that have been closed with removal or other precautions for the Rabbi or teacher involved. It is difficult to determine if the person involved is truly a deviant with deep seated psychological illness or someone who just succumbed to temptation. Not everyone who does sexually immoral acts is necessarily a deviant. Rabbis are people also with sexual urges and frustrations. In retrospect it all becomes clear but before a pattern emerges it is not clear. Also the anonymity which takana offers appeals to the victims filing the complaints. Usually they are invested emotionally with the perpertrator and very often his spouse and family and they rue the possibility of ruining that persons life. So the promise of confidentiality and not exposing those acts immediately actually facilitates and encourages the reporting. also Israel is such a small community that if the perpertrator's identity is known it usually is possible to identify the victim. This identification can be by the victim his family and friends or the press. Therefore the possibility that the problem can be dealt with discreetly encourages the victims to come forward. Every victim knows he can go to the press if he or she wishes and the story will be published with pseudo-anonymity. However most prefer to report to Takana and not the police or press for the reasons i have outlined. Takana encourages the victims to go the police but they usually refuse. Takana is a incredible institution run by individuals of the highest moral ethical and spiritual character. it is unfortunate that you raise such unfounded and misguided complaints torwards such selfless individuals who have done more to stamp out sexual abuse than perhaps any other institution.. SHAME ON YOU!

Harry "Hershy" said...

Anyone who knows HaRav Elon;
Anyone who has asked him she'elot (sought his advice);
Anyone who has been to his shiurim (lectures);
Anyone who has heard him lead prayers on the Yomim No'Roim (New Year and Day of Atonement);
- will instinctively say that the accusations are baseless. Rav Elon is the personification of all that is good and Holy in this world. References in your blog averring to any fault in or questioning HaRav, should be deleted as baseless malicious gossip.

~ Harry "Hershy" Orenstein, Elazar, Gush Etzion

Mike said...

Jameel, thank you for telling me about this post... I found yours by looking up info about this story.

To follow up on what Shlomo said, responsible people know that you have to verify a story like this before going public. That's why the links to the "awareness" center are reprehensible ... I thought muqata was a respectible blog and am disappointed Lurker was allowed to post them. I agree with wolfie about Takana but I think it at least needs to be discussed.

If you go public with one-sided rumor and innuendo, then you're no more rational than the awareness center, which is Vicki Polin (who believes members of her own family sacrificed babies in her synagogue and molested them and her too).

Takana got it right, and went public when they had to and not before. And not later either.

wolfie said...

Also the notion that he was sent to the North is simply not true. He was barred from any and all educational and rabbinic activities especially counseling youth. The move up north was away by Elon to subvert Takana's restirctions. Takana also works with psychologists and profesional counselors to assess the situation.

Jameel said...

Mike: I'll let Lurker comment his reply to your questions.

As I wrote previously - Lurker and I don't see eye to eye specifically on the issue of Takana -- and as I wrote in my previous posting, I thought they are a decent organization.

Jameel said...

Dear Harry "Hershy" Orenstein, Elazar, Gush Etzion

References in your blog averring to any fault in or questioning HaRav, should be deleted as baseless malicious gossip.

Therefore, you are hereby calling the panel of Takana Rabbinim, baldfaced liars?

wolfie said...

"Anyone who knows Rav Elon"- all the Rabbis and leaders of Takana know Rav Elon. MAny for tens of years. It is not gossip it is substantiated and well investigated facts. Substantiated by a large panel of unbiased and selfless individuals. Whose only goal was to protect our youth and students and the holiness of the Jewish People. They interviewed and discussed these issues with Rav Elon and unfortunately some were admitted to and some were blatantly denied. Those denials were shown to be lies. It is a tragedy for klal yisrael for all his students and followers. Also for the family of Rav Elon and yes for Rav Elon himself. We do not know why such urges take hold of such an apparently holy and selfless man. A man who has contributed guided and helped many many more people than myself. But let there be no mistake about it - they did. This is not idle gossip propagated by some headline seeking jounalist. We should all accept the facts believe them but cry and weep over them. Over the hurt and alienation that his followers feel and reach out to them and help them any way we can. Except for one way and that is denial.

josh said...

Moving up north is definitely a way to set up a personal diaspora away from the main dati-leumi metropolis of Jerusalem.
The Rav was supposed to stay away from others, and in fact, he did at the beginning because I remember his friend telling me he is totally secluded. This was a worthy way of teshuva by the Rav to give it all up to protect many others. Unfortunately, I'm sure many people 'incited' him to return to public life and yetzer hara got involved as well.

Lurker said...

chardal: They didn't send him up north. That was his own move. See their latest statement.

Yes, I see that they made note of that in their new statement. Haval that they didn't point it out in the first one.

chardal: All in all, they were not as responsible as they should have been but not nearly as irresponsible as your post makes them to be.

My central point is that it was the Forum's moral and halakhic duty to warn the public of the danger that they knew of several years ago. In the Forum's latest statement, they explain that after the first reported incident, they met with Elon, who acknowledged that he had committed the acts in question, but also gave assurances that it had happened a long time before, and that he had not done anything like it for a very long time. I am not saying that they should have revealed Elon's behavior at this point.

About a year later, however, the Forum received a new complaint about even more severe actions by Elon. It then became clear that the second set of incidents had occurred at the very same time that Elon had been meeting with the Forum a year earlier, deceitfully assuring them that he no longer did such things.

It was at that point that it should have become clear to the Forum that Elon was a recidivist sexual predator and a compulsive liar. And it was at that point that the duty fell upon them to warn the public of the danger posed to them by Elon. But they did not do so, and chose instead to keep it secret, in return for a promise from Elon to abide by a set of severe restrictions that the Forum imposed upon him. I.e., a promise from a man who had already proven himself to be a baldfaced liar, in the matter of the very issue under discussion.

According to the Forum's statement, in the years that followed, they received frequent reports to the effect that Elon was not abiding by his promise. But even then, they chose to still keep the truth a secret.

Had the Forum publicized the danger when they first discovered that Elon was a serial sex offender, they may well have saved many victims from his clutches. Because they negligently chose not to do so, they bear the brunt of the responsibility for the personal tragedies that resulted.

Lurker said...

Shlomo: Lurker, you really have no idea what R' Elon has done, yet without any real evidence you insist that it must be the most extreme and damaging possibility.
The bulk of your argument is based on the fact that R' Cherlow used the words "dangerous" and "severe" to describe what R' Elon did.


*sigh*... No, that is not the "bulk of my argument".

Have you read the latest statement from Takana? It makes it quite clear what Elon did, although they valiantly attempt to use polite, euphemistic language. But since you don't seem to understand what they are saying, I will spell it out for you in brutally clear, unambiguous terminology:

R. Motti Elon engaged in homosexual intercourse (mishkav zakhar), with vulnerable male students who came to him for spiritual guidance. See here for a brief restatement in English of this part of the Forum's statement:

'Elon had sex with male students'

Even more to the point, R. Elon admitted to having done this before the Forum, and his admission was recorded in their protocols. Please go back and read the Forum's statement.

Shlomo: Yet the same R' Cherlow is a member of Takana who has been involved in handling this particular case. Evidently, he did not consider the case "dangerous" enough to need revealing until now. Do you not see the inconsistency in how you present R' Cherlow's position?

Did you not read my post? My central issue is my criticism of Takana for not having revealed it earlier! The inconsistency here is on the part of Takana. In their statement, they say that they chose not to publicize the case at the beginning "for reasons relating to the protection of the complainants". But they revealed it now because "the suspicion in our minds grew that we had no other way to protect the public from the danger of another possible harmful act" by Elon. They were correct about this, of course. The only problem is that they should have come to this realization four years earlier. If they had, then the harm that befell many people might have been prevented.

Shlomo: But R' Elon was not "found" to have sexually harassed. He was ACCUSED of having sexually harassed...

Wrong.

(1) This issue here is not "harrassment", but actual sexual intercourse.

(2) Elon admitted to this before the forum (and promised that he wouldn't do it again).

Shlomo: ...and sometimes people make false accusations, for various reasons. Because of that very possibility, R' Elon's actions are not being prosecuted.

Wrong. He was not prosecuted because the law does not provide for prosecution of a sexually abusive teacher in a relationship with a student who is not formally enrolled in an educational institution where the teacher is employed. See R. Cherlow's explanation of this legal loophole here. It is also referred to in the Forum's statement.

And once again, Elon admitted to the accusations.

Shlomo: Should any accusation of sexual harassment, from any party, automatically end an educator's career? If that's not your position, then please clarify what is.

Certainly: My position is that if a large number of individuals, independent of one another, over a long period of time, bring multiple complaints of repeated sexual abuse upon them by a given educator, and the educator admits to having committed the acts in question, then that should most definitely end the educator's career.

Lurker said...

wolfie: The claim that all the stories end the same is simply not true. There are numerous stories that have been closed with removal or other precautions for the Rabbi or teacher involved.

Sources, please.

wolfie: It is difficult to determine if the person involved is truly a deviant with deep seated psychological illness or someone who just succumbed to temptation. Not everyone who does sexually immoral acts is necessarily a deviant.

I don't know what that even means, nor do I see what your point is. It is of little concern to me whether a sexual predator is labelled a "deviant"; who cares what labels are used? My concern is simply that potential victims should be protected from him.

wolfie: Takana is a incredible institution run by individuals of the highest moral ethical and spiritual character. it is unfortunate that you raise such unfounded and misguided complaints torwards such selfless individuals who have done more to stamp out sexual abuse than perhaps any other institution..

Do you think that all these praises that you're heaping upon the organization, true as they may be, provide any comfort whatsoever to all the victims of Elon whose ordeals could have been prevented if Takana had revealed the truth four years ago?

Neither do I.

To quote from Takana's statement, the purpose of the Forum is "preventing and dealing with problems of sexual abuse and harrassment on the part of people possessing authority and responsibility in the religious public".

Using Takana's own definition, they failed in their central purpose for four years.

Lurker said...

Harry "Hershy" Orenstein: Anyone who knows HaRav Elon;
Anyone who has asked him she'elot (sought his advice);
Anyone who has been to his shiurim (lectures);
Anyone who has heard him lead prayers on the Yomim No'Roim (New Year and Day of Atonement);
- will instinctively say that the accusations are baseless. Rav Elon is the personification of all that is good and Holy in this world.


Yes, I remember all too well all the people who said and wrote pretty much the exact same things that you're saying now, about the great, respected, good and holy Rabbi Baruch Lanner.

Those people were successful in the late '80's in getting Lanner off the hook, in spite of all the massive evidence of the abuse that he had perpetrated on helpless youngsters.

They managed to keep things quiet until 2000, when Lanner's sexual abuse of students in the school where he was principal came to the attention of state law enforcement authorities, after which he was tried and imprisoned.

Harry "Hershy" Orenstein: References in your blog averring to any fault in or questioning HaRav, should be deleted as baseless malicious gossip.

It was people just like you -- people who lived in cognitive dissonance and denial, rejecting all the massive, overwhelming evidence of Rabbi Lanner's monstrous crimes as "baseless malicious gossip" -- who succeeded in keeping his crimes covered up, and who enabled him to spend many more years destroying the lives and souls of more and more helpless, innocent Jewish youngsters.

Perhaps you will be as successful as they were, and likewise enable Elon to continue perpetrating destructive sexual havoc and tragedy upon the lives of more and more innocent Jews for years to come.

I hope you can live with that.

Lurker said...

Mike: ...responsible people know that you have to verify a story like this before going public. That's why the links to the "awareness" center are reprehensible ... I thought muqata was a respectible blog and am disappointed Lurker was allowed to post them.

The links I provided to pages on the Awareness Center site simply contain compendiums of and links to articles in the media about R. Baruch Lanner, R. Yehuda Kolko, R. Matis Weinberg, and R. Mordechai Gafni. All these cases have been verified, and quite thoroughly, too. In some cases (e.g., Kolko) criminal charges have been filed, and in one case (Lanner), the individual was convicted in a court of law and served a prison sentence. In the case of Weinberg, Yeshiva University, after conducting an investigation, severed all ties with Weinberg's yeshiva, and in the case of Gafni, there were confessions in writing by the perpetrator.

Your implication that these cases were not "verified" is completely ridiculous.

And if you think that the Elon case has not been investigated and verified, then I suggest that you take the time to read Takana's statement. Especially the part where they explain that Elon admitted to them what he had done.

I did not link to anything even remotely related to Vicki Polin's bizarre claims about her childhood, nor do I endorse them. Again, all the links are to pages containing news articles about serial sex offenders whose guilt has been extensively investigated and proven (your innuendo to the contrary notwithstanding). R. Yosef Blau, the mashgiah ruhani at Yeshiva University, has served on the executive board of the Awareness Center, and he has referred to pages on this site as useful resources. I see nothing wrong with doing the same.

Mike: Takana got it right, and went public when they had to and not before. And not later either.

According to Takana's own statement, they already discovered that Elon was a recidivist, serial sex offender -- and a complete liar whose word could not be trusted -- four years ago. And indeed, as their statement says, Elon did not abide by the terms of his agreement with Takana, and in fact continued to commit abusive sexual acts upon students.

In light of this, perhaps you can explain to us why the right time to warn the public of the danger posed by Elon was not four years ago, when they discovered that Elon was a serial offender -- and why this week suddenly became the right time.

Lurker said...

wolfie: Also the notion that he was sent to the North is simply not true.

Yes, I accept that, as Takana made a note of this in their latest statement. It's a shame that they didn't point this out in their original statement.

wolfie: He was barred from any and all educational and rabbinic activities especially counseling youth. The move up north was away by Elon to subvert Takana's restirctions.

I think you're right about that, too. And that's all the more reason why Takana should have become even more wary and suspicious, and why they were negligent in allowing Elon to go on violating their conditions continually, far away from their view, for a period of four years.

wolfie said...

I am sorry i cannot reveal the names and personalities involved but be assured that it is true. Be realistic perhaps Rabbis teacher are better people they are not perfect and things like this happen.I hope they happen at a lower rate than in the secular world but they happen and can be dealt with.
I am not justifying any immoral activity nor am i interested in semantic distinctions.
But the claim that if it happened once the person cannot help himself is simply not true. One has to differentiate between pedophiles or individuals with severe deep rooted psychological problems and regular normative individuals who succumb to momentary or situational sexual situations.
If it is the second case is it necessary to ruin that persons and his families life? Even in cases of pedophilia very often the child carries guilt for years over sending his tormentor to jail. How about a teenage girl (or older) who has inappropriate relations with a teacher and the teacher gets divorced in the midst of a public scandal? This is a very major obstacle in getting victims to come forward and the cofidentiality promise is vital. Even in this scandal think of the victims - perhaps they are not homosexual at all and wish to have their involvement with Rav Alon remain secret or at least not printed on the front page of Yediot. While their identity is known by all except for the 7 people who have no internet speak no lashon hara and have severe hearing problems. The timeline is such that i assume some of the victims are married and have children. How long do you think it is before it becomes known who they are? if not publicly then to their surroundings? If not known then suspected. Can these issues be cavalierly bandied about? Is the proper forum to weigh these issues your blog? With people who simply do not know all the facts or perhaps a forum of disinterested, highly ethical moral people with decades of experience in public educational and Rabbinic leadership with consult of professional advice(psychologists and legal). That is exactly what Takana is. I certainly do not propose blind emunat hachamim certainly not after this fiasco but one should give the incredible selfless individuals of Takana reasonable leeway instead of engaging in monday morning quarterbacking after hearing a synopsis of the game on radio.

wolfie said...

My comments about the nature of the people in Takana was meant as an attack on yourself and other bloggers here who have attacked takana and not a consolation.
Secondly i absolutely believe that it should be a partial consolation to the victims that there is a group of people of this caliber who tried to do their best for the victims. and klal yisrael.
With what we know now should they have acted differently? Well what they know now they did not know then, they acted with the knowledge they had to the best of their abilities and judgemnt to try and acheive the best result for the victims and klal yisrael.

Lurker said...

Me: Habitual sexual predators always repeat their pathological behavior.

wolfie: But the claim that if it happened once the person cannot help himself is simply not true.

If you disagree with me, then argue with what I actually said. Please don't create and attack straw men. I never said that "if it happened once the person cannot help himself". I said that if someone is found to be doing it habitually, then he will keep on doing it. Doing it once is not doing it habitually. And I stand by what I said 100%. It is backed up by the facts, and is common knowlwdge among mental health professionals and social workers.

wolfie: ...is it necessary to ruin that persons and his families life?

If we are speaking of a habitual predator who keeps victimizing people repeatedly (like Elon), then absolutely yes. That is a price that must be paid to protect future victims.

All of the reasons you give for not warning the public are no less valid (or invalid) now than they were four years ago. If Takana did the right thing this week by ignoring all your reasons and publicizing the matter anyway, then they should have done it four years ago. The risk to future victims was exactly the same. The only difference is that now, numerous additional people have suffered tragedies unneccesarily.

wolfie: ...one should give the incredible selfless individuals of Takana reasonable leeway...

Enough already! I'm sick and tired of giving such people leeway. I saw up close what happened in the late '80's when such leeway was given to the YU beit din that investigated Baruch Lanner, found the charges to be true, and then kept the truth covered up, thus enabling a monster to go on destroying Jewish youngsters for many more years.

wolfie: ...instead of engaging in monday morning quarterbacking after hearing a synopsis of the game on radio.

I have been saying what I wrote here for many years now, in every single case of predator rabbis whose behavior was hidden from the public by those who had a duty to warn us. (And there is certainly no shortage of such cases.) It's not "Monday morning quarterbacking" if I would have said the exact same thing during the game (had I been afforded the opportunity).

By their own admission, Takana's decision to keep the truth under wraps backfired on them, and people suffered horribly as a result. They had more than enough precedents to guide them to a proper decision four years ago, but they chose to ignore them. They failed.

Lurker said...

Me: Do you think that all these praises that you're heaping upon the organization, true as they may be, provide any comfort whatsoever to all the victims of Elon whose ordeals could have been prevented if Takana had revealed the truth four years ago?

wolfie: ...i absolutely believe that it should be a partial consolation to the victims that there is a group of people of this caliber who tried to do their best for the victims. and klal yisrael.

You make no sense. If Takana had fulfilled thier self-assigned duty four years ago, then they would have prevented all the abuses that Elon perpetrated during that time, and there would have been no more victims! Instead, by keeping silent for all that time, they directly allowed these people to become victims in the first place. Your suggestion that those victims, whose suffering could have been prevented by Takana but wasn't, should take consolation from the fact that this organization which knew the truth for years is speaking out only now, after the fact (for them) -- is patently ridiculous and outrageous.

wolfie: With what we know now should they have acted differently? Well what they know now they did not know then...

Wrong. Four years ago they already knew that (1) Elon was a serial sex offender, and (2) he was a baldfaced liar who could not be trusted. He was actively engaging in sexual abuse during the very period that he was meeting with Takana and promising them that no such incidents had occurred for years! Alaso, for the entire four year period that ensued, Elon repeatedlty violated the restrictions that Takana had placed upon him as a condition for maintaining their silence. All this comes directly from Takana's own account of the case.

Four years ago, Takana knew then everything they needed to know to go forward with warning the public, but they opted not to do so. There is nothing of additional substance that they just learned now. Elon simply kept on doing was he had already been doing repeatedly four years ago. Your claim that something of relevance suddenly changed, thus revealing to Takana something that they hadn't known previously, is completely without foundation.

wolfie said...

4 years ago it was not known that he was a habitual incorrigible sex offender. The truth is it isn't clear whether or not he is an "offender" as the acts might not have been onnn minors or people that were directly and currently in his instituion. They had one isolated case and the number of cases increased as the years went on. The victims wanted confidentiality both for themselves and for Rav alon. They all know the address and phone number of the awareness center kolech the newspapers and the like and could avail themselves of any and all these outlets before. or they could open an anonymous blog and spread out all the details. They preferred to deal with it in a manner discretely for numerous reasons. A policy of running to the papers would eliminate any possibility of getting the victims to talk. Why don't you set up an organazation to broadcast to the whole world and press and we will see how many people come to you. it became clear that Rav Elon was continuing his activities. Now it retrospect it is clear but at any time in the past it was not. Also even now to a large extent Rav Elon and his supporters forced their hand by denying and besmirching them. Can you imagine their outcry if the facts were not so clear - could he have the held onto his position and standing? If Rav Elon was not given a chance to reform himself? Your comments about him being a "habitual sex offender" and always coming back. Does not apply to disgusting and immoral behaviour. I also spoke to the expert on Takanas board and he did not confirm your staement. There are a myriad of people who reformed themselves and have stood by restrictions and prohibitions that Takana has imposed on them. These are not necessarily pedophiles but sometimes normal people who did bad things.

wolfie said...

4 years ago it was not known that he was a habitual incorrigible sex offender. The truth is it isn't clear whether or not he is an "offender" as the acts might not have been onnn minors or people that were directly and currently in his instituion. They had one isolated case and the number of cases increased as the years went on. The victims wanted confidentiality both for themselves and for Rav alon. They all know the address and phone number of the awareness center kolech the newspapers and the like and could avail themselves of any and all these outlets before. or they could open an anonymous blog and spread out all the details. They preferred to deal with it in a manner discretely for numerous reasons. A policy of running to the papers would eliminate any possibility of getting the victims to talk. Why don't you set up an organazation to broadcast to the whole world and press and we will see how many people come to you. it became clear that Rav Elon was continuing his activities. Now it retrospect it is clear but at any time in the past it was not. Also even now to a large extent Rav Elon and his supporters forced their hand by denying and besmirching them. Can you imagine their outcry if the facts were not so clear - could he have the held onto his position and standing? If Rav Elon was not given a chance to reform himself? Your comments about him being a "habitual sex offender" and always coming back. Does not apply to disgusting and immoral behaviour. I also spoke to the expert on Takanas board and he did not confirm your staement. There are a myriad of people who reformed themselves and have stood by restrictions and prohibitions that Takana has imposed on them. These are not necessarily pedophiles but sometimes normal people who did bad things.

kayla said...

Lurker - I did not listen to Rav Sherlo's comments, but I did read the Tkanah statement and the JPost article. The JPost article cannot be used as evidence of anything.

They state "Former Yeshivat Hakotel head Rabbi Mordechai Elon had sexual relations with male students in the past, a rabbinical forum that works to prevent sexual abuse in the national-religious sector said in a statement Wednesday."

My hebrew is not perfect, but no where in the Takana statement or Rav Lichtenstein's speech did I see that. Correct me if I am wrong (as I'm sure you will.)

They stated that Rav Elon did sexually inappropriate things. We do not know what that is.

Takana stated that Rav Elon admitted to doing certain things, but again, they do not specify what. Do you have some secret knowlege (other than the Jpost article)?

You are blaming Takana for enabling abuse and accusing Rav Elon of chronic homosexual abuse. Takana said he did something wrong - and harrasment and/or abuse is wrong and should be stopped - but they never stated that he slept with students.

Lurker said...

wolfie: 4 years ago it was not known that he was a habitual incorrigible sex offender... They had one isolated case...

It appears that you have not read the statement published by Takana, because what you are saying is simply untrue.

The first complaint about R. Elon was received by the Forum 5 years ago. In the course of investigating the incident, the Forum met with Elon, who acknowledged that he had committed the acts in question, but also gave assurances that it had happened a long time before, and that he had not done anything like it for a very long time. I am not saying that Takana should have revealed Elon's behavior at this point.

About a year later (i.e., 4 years ago), however, the Forum received a new complaint about a long series of even more severe acts perpetrated by Elon. It then became clear that the second set of incidents had occurred during the very same time that Elon had been meeting with the Forum a year earlier, deceitfully assuring them that he no longer did such things.

In other words, at this point -- 4 years ago -- it had become incontovertibly clear to the Forum that Elon was a recidivist sexual predator and a compulsive liar.

Your claim that "4 years ago it was not known that he was a habitual incorrigible sex offender" and that "they had one isolated case" is thus completely wrong.

And it was at that point (4 years ago) that the duty fell upon Takana to warn the public of the danger posed by Elon. But they did not do so, and chose instead to keep it secret, in return for a promise from Elon to abide by a set of severe restrictions that the Forum imposed upon him. I.e., a promise from a man who had already proven himself to be a baldfaced liar, in the matter of the very issue under discussion.

According to the Forum's statement, throughout the 4 years that followed, they received frequent reports that Elon was not abiding by his promise. But in spite of this, they chose to keep the truth a secret for this entire period.

Had the Forum publicized the danger when they first discovered that Elon was a serial sex offender, they may well have saved many victims from his clutches. Because they negligently chose not to do so, they bear the brunt of the responsibility for the personal tragedies that resulted.

wolfie: The truth is it isn't clear whether or not he is an "offender" as the acts might not have been onnn minors or people that were directly and currently in his instituion.

This would only mean that he could not be charged criminally under current Israeli criminal law. And so what? The point is that he was a spiritual leader who took advantage of people who looked up to him, who came to him for spiritual guidance, and who placed their trust in him -- by leveraging their trust and emotional weaknesses to perform sexual acts upon them. Sexual acts that, I might add, are considered to be among the most severe possible Torah violations.

You suggestion that Elon was not an "offender" because current Israeli law does not provide for criminal prosecution due to the specifc circumstances you mentioned, is incredibly outrageous. He committed moral, personal, and halakhic offenses of the most extreme and grave kind.

wolfie: it became clear that Rav Elon was continuing his activities. Now it retrospect it is clear but at any time in the past it was not.

It doesn't matter how many times you repeat this completely false assertion; it will not make it true. To the contrary, it was clear that Elon was continuing his activities already four years ago, as the Takana statement says very explicitly.

I suggest that you go back and read the statement before again repeating things that are just plain wrong.

Lurker said...

kayla: Takana stated that Rav Elon admitted to doing certain things, but again, they do not specify what.

R. Cherlow had already alluded to the nature of Elon's actions in this interview, where he stated that Elon's deeds were "far more severe" than sexual harrassment.

The second published statement from Takana made it quite clear what, in fact, they were talking about: It says: "We are speaking of the most severe acts, that are not subject to any other possible interpretation." They were trying to be polite and circumspect in their language, but this can only mean sexual intercourse -- i.e., the "most severe" of sexual acts, which is "not subject to any other possible interpretation" (as opposed to things like fondling, etc., which one can hypothetically interpret as having a different intent).

The Jerusalem Post article and others are simply paraphrasing the above statement from Takana in a more blunt manner.

Lurker said...

kayla -- if the wording in the official Takana statement insufficiently clear, here is yet another, even clearer source:

Maariv today published a transcript of a recorded interview between the Takana Forum and a close friend of one of the people who was sexually abused by R. Elon. In the interview, the nature of the sexual acts in question are discussed, and they are referred to explicitly as "משכב זכור" (homosexual intercourse).

wolfie said...

I have read the statement and it does not have your timeline. I have spoken with two members of the forum and they told me it was not clear to them at first that there was a pattern. Also as to the term offender. I do not mean to belittle this immoral activity i find it despicable and in a certain sense
worse than being a psychologically offender in your terms. However the possibility of reform and not returning to those activities are different depending on the nature of the offense. For pedophiles and ther sexual depraved individual that need psychological counseling and there are other individual who succumb to certain temptations that can be reformed with the proper safeguards. Your jumping back an forth between the two terms using conclusions from one to the other is not accurate.
The necessity of publication now had to do with the realization that the safeguards were not affective and the knowledge that the story was going to come out sooner or later revealing the names of the compainants anyhow.

In addition the promise of confidentiality to the victims is in their mind

למה לא פרסמתם מלכתחילה את הפרשה?
הפורום נאלץ לא לפרסם את דבר התלונות מטעמי הגנה על המתלוננים
As i said the coming forth of the victims to complain is contingent on the reports not leaking out and trying to deal with the issue discreetly.
Their policy is staed clearly on the website- in order to publicize anything noone needs Takkana, and they encourage going to police but for many reasons it usually does not happen

Lurker said...

Wolfie: I have read the statement and it does not have your timeline.

Really? Well, let’s take a look at it, then:

The first complaint about R. Elon, received by the Forum 5 years ago (this is evident because according to what is stated below, the complaint was received one year prior to Elon’s resignation as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel, which was 4 years ago):

אחת התלונות הראשונות שהוגשו לפורום היו נגד הרב מוטי אלון, בטענות של ניצול מיני על ידי בעל סמכות רוחנית. מדובר במעשים חמורים ביותר שאינם ניתנים לפרשנות אחרת...

The committee meets with Elon, who acknowledges that he had committed the acts in question, but also gives assurances that it had happened a long time before, and that he had not done it again it for a very long time:

הועדה המצומצמת שכללה את הרב אריאל, הרב ליכטנשטיין, מר בני להמן, פרופ' ידידיה שטרן וגברת יהודית שילת,שמעה את התלונה הראשונה, ולאחר מכן נפגשה עם הרב אלון שהצהיר כי התגבר לחלוטין על בעייתו וכי מדובר במקרים ישנים ואין מקרים נוספים.

לאחר שהשתכנעה כי התלונה מבוססת, ולאור מאפייניה של התלונה, קבעה הועדה ביחד אתו כי עליו להקפיד על דיני ייחוד גם עם תלמידים (גברים).

One year later (i.e., 4 years ago), the Forum receives a new complaint about a long series of even more severe acts perpetrated by Elon. It then becomes clear that the second set of incidents had occurred during the very same time that Elon had been meeting with the Forum a year earlier, deceitfully assuring them that he no longer did such things.

כעבור כשנה התקבלה תלונה נוספת חמורה מן הראשונה. הועדה המצומצמת שמעה גם את התלונה הזו, ונדהמה להבין כי התלונה מתייחסת גם למעשים חמורים שהתרחשו בעת שהועדה דנה בתלונה הראשונה.

At this point (4 years ago), it is now clear to the committee that (1) Elon is a repeat offender, and (2) he is a liar who cannot be trusted:

גם הפעם הועדה שמעה את הרב אלון. לאור חומרת המעשים - קשר בעל אופי מיני ברור לאורך זמן - שלדאבוננו התבררו כנכונים; לאור העובדה כי היה זה מקרה שני, דבר המעיד על בעיה מהותית יותר, ולאור זאת שהועדה איבדה אמון בדבריו של הרב שהסתיר את המעשים בעת הדיון בתלונה הראשונה...

Please note: This clearly demonstrates that your claim that "4 years ago it was not known that he was a habitual incorrigible sex offender" and that they only had “one isolated case" is completely wrong.

[Continued below]

Lurker said...

[Continued from above]

The committee then chooses to keep Elon’s behavior a secret, instead sufficing with a set of severe restrictions that they impose upon him:

...החליטה הועדה המצומצמת כי אין זה ראוי כלל וכלל כי אדם שעשה מעשים אלה ימשיך לעסוק בתפקידים תורניים ציבוריים, יעמוד בראש מוסדות תורניים ויהווה כתובת להתייעצות. הוועדה הטילה על הרב סדרת הגבלות שתרחיק אותו מהאפשרות לפגוע במתלוננים עתידיים (עקירת דירתו לצפון לא היתה יוזמה של פורום תקנה). הרב אלון נאלץ לעזוב את ראשות ישיבת הכותל, את ההופעות הציבוריות שלו וסדרה שלמה של תפקידים ציבוריים שמילא.

במשך הזמן נוצר צורך להרחיב את ההרכב העוסק בנושא מתוך הפורום, עקב החמרת המידע שהצטבר, והאחריות הציבורית הכבדה. המצטרפים (הרב איתן אייזמן, הרב אבי גיסר, הרב אליקים לבנון, הרב יצחק שילת, הרב יהושע שפירא והרב יובל שרלו) ששמעו דו"ח מלא ומפורט על התהליך כולו, גיבו את חברי הועדה המצומצמת, והצטרפו למכתב התובע מהרב אלון למלא אחר החובות שהוטלו עליו.

R. Elon’s compliance with the restrictions placed upon him was specified as a condition for the committee to keep its information about him secret. In spite of this, throughout the 4 years that followed, the committee received frequent reports that Elon was not abiding by the restrictions. But they chose nevertheless to do nothing other than simply repeat their warnings, while keeping the truth a secret, for the entire 4-year period:

לאורך כל השנים התגלעו חילוקי דעות מתמידים בין הפורום לבין הרב אלון בשאלה האם הוא ממלא אחר כל התחייבויותיו. הפורום המשיך לתבוע מהרב מוטי אלון למלא אחר כל מה שהוטל עליו, ובעיקר – הימנעות ממפגשים אישיים ואינטימיים עם המבקשים את עצתו ועזרתו עליה חתם במפורש (בעקבות התלונה הראשונה). לצערנו הרב אלון לא עמד בכל הדרישות האלה.
...
... הרב אלון לא מילא אחר ההגבלות שהוטלו עליו ובמיוחד בתחום הקשרים האישיים. הפרסום בא לאחר שבמהלך השנים הותרה הרב אלון מספר פעמים כי אם הוא לא יפעל במסגרת ההגבלות שהוטלו עליו נאלץ לפרסם את הדבר.

Wolfie: I have spoken with two members of the forum and they told me it was not clear to them at first that there was a pattern.

Once again, you are creating and attacking a straw man. I never said that it was clear to the forum when they first received complaints about Elon (i.e., 5 years ago) that there was a pattern. To the contrary, I explicitly stated that “I am not saying that Takana should have revealed Elon's behavior at this point [of the first revelation 5 years ago]”. What I did say is that a year later (i.e., 4 years ago), it became entirely clear to the committee that Elon was a recidivist offender and a baldfaced liar. As you can see, the Takana statement says exactly that:

לאור העובדה כי היה זה מקרה שני, דבר המעיד על בעיה מהותית יותר, ולאור זאת שהועדה איבדה אמון בדבריו של הרב שהסתיר את המעשים בעת הדיון בתלונה הראשונה...

Please note, once again, that this was 4 years ago (immediately prior to his resignation from HaKotel). And it was at that time that the committee incurred a moral obligation to warn the public – an obligation that they failed to fulfill.

To reiterate:

(1) The statement of the Forum lays out the timeline exactly as I gave it.

(2) Your repeated claim that "4 years ago it was not known that [Elon] was a habitual incorrigible sex offender" and that at the time (4 years ago) the committee had only “one isolated case" is directly and explicitly refuted by the Forum’s own statement.

Mike said...

Lurker,

It's not up to me, but to Takanah, to answer why now is the right time and four years ago, the wrong time. But it is not as if they did nothing four years ago... they forced him to step down. What you don't recognize is that the fear of further punishment is enough for many. That's what probation is all about in court -- "do this again, and we'll nail you for everything to date as well." In this case they obviously had warned him they'd need to warn the public if he did anything again.

Without any position of power, it took some doing for Alon to abuse what little power he had left. But he obviously did. And that's why Takanah took action at the correct time.

My comments about the Awareness Center did not mean I was saying all their news stories are wrong. Obviously the Lanner and Kolko cases, for example, are bad enough that I don't doubt the accuracy of Polin's stories about them, not that I would read her versions.

What I said was, you should not have referred to her as if she was a valid resource. [While I do not know Rabbi Matis Weinberg at all (for example), I do know some of those affected by the publication of that scandal -- and it was unnecessary and wrong. There was a case where a situation, and a very bad one, was corrected without publicity. And then they publicized it.]

No matter what, the fact that many of the stories are true doesn't mean there is any justification for publishing rumors and false reports, as Vicki Polin does. I really don't think any rabbinic name should be brought in talking about how useful she is, as it speaks poorly of the rabbi rather than well about her. Would you respect a rabbi who put a hechsher on a pig?

Lurker said...

Mike: Takana got it right, and went public when they had to and not before. And not later either.

Me: According to Takana's own statement, they already discovered that Elon was a recidivist, serial sex offender -- and a complete liar whose word could not be trusted -- four years ago. And indeed, as their statement says, Elon did not abide by the terms of his agreement with Takana, and in fact continued to commit abusive sexual acts upon students.
In light of this, perhaps you can explain to us why the right time to warn the public of the danger posed by Elon was not four years ago, when they discovered that Elon was a serial offender -- and why this week suddenly became the right time.


Mike: It's not up to me, but to Takanah, to answer why now is the right time and four years ago, the wrong time.

Excuse me? First, you declare that "Takana got it right", and that their choice for when to publicize the information (this week) was precisely correct -- and that doing it any earlier (or later) would have been wrong. I responded by giving my argument that the right time was 4 years ago, and challenged you to explain your position that the only right time was now. In response, you tell me that you can't answer me.

Well, if you can't answer, then you ought not to be making declarations that "Takana got it right". Not if you're unwilling, or unable, to back up that assertion with any justification.

Mike: What you don't recognize is that the fear of further punishment is enough for many.

As I pointed out, it is never enough for a compulsive sexual predator. Past experience has shown this clearly and repeatedly. (E.g., Lanner, who continued his abusive behavior unabated for years, despite all the threats of punishment.)

Mike: In this case they obviously had warned him they'd need to warn the public if he did anything again.

Yes, and in its own statement, Takana says that Elon would continually violate the terms they imposed on him, and they kept responding to his violations by just repeating this same warning over and over again for 4 years, but never going through with it, until now.

Quite pathetic, to put it mildly.

Mike: And that's why Takanah took action at the correct time.

There you go again, declaring it to be "the correct time". But when I ask to to kindly tell us exactly why this was "the correct time", you reply that I should ask that question to Takana, because "it's not up to me... to answer why now is the right time". How can you keep saying it's the "right time" if you refuse to back up that assertion in any way?

Lurker said...

Mike: My comments about the Awareness Center did not mean I was saying all their news stories are wrong. Obviously the Lanner and Kolko cases, for example, are bad enough that I don't doubt the accuracy of Polin's stories about them, not that I would read her versions.

Have you actually looked at the pages I linked to on that site? They are not "their" news stories - they're compilations of articles from various newspapers and other media outlets. I could have given a hundred links to Lanner articles in the media; but instead I gave a link to single page that has them all in one place. Furthermore, these pages do not contain "Polin's stories about them", or "her versions" of anything at all. You should take a look at what you're you're talking about before criticizing.

Mike: What I said was, you should not have referred to her as if she was a valid resource.

Excuse me, but I didn't refer to Vicki Polin at all. You were the one who did that. All I did was provide links to pages containing the full texts of some articles from the media. The fact that Vicki Polin may happen to have been the person who did the copy-and-pasting of those articles is not particularly relevant.

Mike: While I do not know Rabbi Matis Weinberg at all (for example), I do know some of those affected by the publication of that scandal -- and it was unnecessary and wrong. There was a case where a situation, and a very bad one, was corrected without publicity. And then they publicized it.

(1) What do you mean "they" publicized it? Who are "they", the Awareness Center? Sorry, but it was the administration of YU who publicized it, and it subsequently appeared all over the Jewish media. The Awareness Center did nothing more than reference those media articles on their web site.

(2) How, exactly, was the awful situation of sexual abuse by Matis Weinberg "corrected without publicity"? What, exactly, was the "correction"? I'd really like to know, since I have been hearing reports in recent weeks that Weinberg is still molesting boys.

Mike: No matter what, the fact that many of the stories are true doesn't mean there is any justification for publishing rumors and false reports, as Vicki Polin does.

*sigh*. Once again, all she published was existing articles from the media, so that people would have a centralized resource for them, rather than having to dig through mountains of Google results. Furthermore, every single page of these media compilations includes the following notice at the top: "Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs." Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Your criticism is utterly unfounded.

Mike: I really don't think any rabbinic name should be brought in talking about how useful she is, as it speaks poorly of the rabbi rather than well about her.

R. Yosef Blau has served as an advisor on the executive board of the Awareness Center; this is a fact. R. Blau himself was the one who "brought in his name"; obviously, he has no problem with it. Your suggestion that all mention of this fact should be avoided is preposterous. Clearly, R. Blau simply does not share your opinions on the matter.

Mike: Would you respect a rabbi who put a hechsher on a pig?

Well, that was certainly a colorful way for you convey to us your opinion of R. Blau...

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