Michalah and Takanah Address Sexual Assault Allegations



Yediot Achronot, the Israeli newspaper, recently reported that a rabbi/teacher from Michlalah, Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, had been accused by a female student of sexual assault.

The case apparently goes back to 2007, when a female teacher relayed a complaint on behalf of the student, to the school management. The allegations concerned a senior male member of staff, who was alleged to have sexually assaulted the girl, one of his female students.

The reporting teacher did not find the allegation satisfactorily addressed by the Michlalah college, and so referred onwards to the Takana Forum.

Takana is an organization which consists of the leading National Religious rabbis, and includes both mental health and legal experts. Takana first hit the headlines in Israel, when they issued a statement in January this year, exposing alleged malfeasance against male students by charismatic rabbi, Rav Motti Elon.

Takana specializes in taking on allegations of sexual misconduct by rabbis, teachers and other community leaders; Takana does not take on cases which include allegations of pedophilia (ie where the alleged victim is a minor, under the age of 18), as this is requires Mandatory Reporting, by Israeli Law, to the state authorities.

Takana therefore occupies the hinterland between immoral, but not criminal, behaviour by community leaders and educators.  

In the Michlalah case, it is reported that Takana’s panel consisted of Rav Yaakov Ariel the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, Rav Yehoshua Shapira, the Head of Ramat Gan Yeshiva, Dr Shlomit Lehman the Manager of the Yad Sarah family center in Jerusalem, and Dr Aviad HaCohen, a Legal Expert from “Shaarei Mishpat”. They initially met on this case in June 2009.

It is reported that this prestigious panel at Takana investigated the case, over a period of several months, and found the student’s complaint was justified.

According to Yediot Achronot, the Takana Forum came to an agreement with Michlalah that the offending teacher would immediately resign, and that a payment of 20,000 NIS would be paid to the student, in return for indemnity against further prosecution.

The female teacher, however, has now opened up a civil suit against Michlalah, at a Jerusalem Court, for allegedly covering up the incident, rather than reporting the case to the authorities, claiming that such reporting was required by law.

Takana has denied that this case required reporting by law, and indeed claims that the case was taken to the Government’s Legal Advisor, and cleared by him for Takana to address, without reporting to the civil authorities.

Michlalah has also issued a public statement, claiming that the college did everything required of them in investigating the allegations - and dismissing the allegations of the civil law suit, blaming it on the female teacher, who the college claims holds a malicious grudge against the rabbi involved.   

Comments

  1. My taxi driver commented on that. He says his adult kids all left Bet Shemesh, sick of the haredim who prey sexually on kids and on defenseless women and then yell "TZNIOOOSSSSS!!!" at shoppers all over town. So sad. The dati world messed up. Limiting recreational fun and hypervigilance on a few issues produced sex predators with no other outlets for their energies. They need jobs, sports, responsibilities. And lots of therapy. Lots and lots of therapy....

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  2. If this girl was sexually assaulted, why isn't it still a crime not to report it to police? If he paid her the money, then he admits his guilt and belongs in a jail cell. I hope to G-d, he's not still working there. how does takana differ from local cases where rabbonim also advocate not involving the police?

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  3. As a former Michlalah girl, who (5 years down the line) is still in touch with this Rabbi, I can say that he is one of the most moral people that I know. He has helped me so much with many things in my life and i cannot BELIEVE that someone has spread lies like this about him. I am definitely for speaking out if something like this happens, but I am totally against ruining a Rabbi's reputation by lying about something that didn't happen. He was always SO careful with yichud when I went to his office for meetings and he always made sure that his wife was around when I went to meet him in his house after I left Michlalah. So don't believe any of this.

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