Full Disclosure: As Tzedek-Tzedek readers will be aware, I established and run Magen. I initiated the organization as a responsible & professional response to child/sex abuse cases, particularly in the frum community.
Yesterday, I attended the grim and tragic funeral of Corporal Dave Gordon z"l.
Dave was a child sex abuse victim, who bravely stepped forward and spoke out publicly, advocating for other victims to also come forward. Dave volunteered his available time to Magen, to help in promoting this cause and protecting other children from being victimized and abused.
In Dave's case, the damage of the molestation he suffered as a child, played out tragically, even in this 21 year old, heroic, served-in-Gaza, IDF soldier.
The psychological trauma sex-abuse victims endured and often continue to endure for years and even decades, cannot be understated, minimized or overlooked.
As many are now aware, there is an extended blog-war (now officially declared a war of attrition) about Elimelech Meisels and the allegations that he sexually abused his seminary students; and the secondary allegations that, even in Meisels absence, the seminaries are still not safe due to the complicity and/or negligence of members of the staff who are still in positions of authority.
Much of the blog wars have focused on the jurisdictions of the two Batei Din involved - the Chicago Beit Din and the Israeli Bet Din. The question being addressed: Who has the authority to posken/rule?
This whole jurisdiction squabble is simply a calculated tactic by the IBD of blowing smoke in the public's eyes. Frankly, who cares?
Instead, the primary concern must be the process of healing & justice for the victims, and assuring the safety of the girls enrolled/attending these seminaries.
It is the sad fact that 90% of sex abuse victims do not step forward to report the crimes against them.
Most of Meisels' victims, by the nature of these crimes, are still unknown.
These victims are/were impressionable girls who were cynically taken advantage of and abused by a pop-star seminary mogul, and are now beset with fear, misplaced guilt-feelings, embarrassment, anger, bewilderment, doubts of faith, confusion, periods of depression...
The IBD has now stated through their proxy R.Daniel Eidensohn that, after over two months of them leaking and squabbling in the public eye, the IBD have apparently woken up and noticed there are real victims involved:
Anyone who has information of any type should contact either Rabbi Malinowitz (phone number) or Rabbi Gartner(I will try and get his number). However it is important to realize that all they will do over the phone is to take your name and number and which school this is about. They will then contact you about coming to the next Bais Din session.
It was explained that they will not accept testimony over the phone to one Dayan and in most cases require the accused present (because they are a beis din not a lynch mob).
From the point of view of a victim, this short message contains three acts of intimidation:
1. After you have the tremendous courage to pick up that phone and call the IBD, you will not be heard. You will, in effect, take-a-number.
2. You will only be heard by a (leaky) Beit Din, in Israel, in full session, including Meisels or other staff members who are alleged to have done a wrong-doing.
3. The expression "not a lynch mob" is referring to the accused not being "lynched".
This is small comfort for the victims, who are being implicitly warned they will be subjected to facing off publicly against their perpetrator or his enablers, aggressively cross-questioned and other intimidating tactics by the Beit Din, and will potentially not be believed, in the name of being fair to (not "lynching") the accused.
This level of frightening rhetoric (who's talking here about lynching anyone??), in the name of a Beit Din, is guaranteed to frighten away a victim.
In addition, I know Rav Malinowitz from close up.
He is a fine torah scholar; gets involved in fracases for his kicks; and unfortunately has the bedside manner of a pathologist.
If any of Meisels victims are reading this article, in the current circumstances I recommend you do not contact the IBD.
If you are seeking confidential counsel and advice, you should turn to an independent victims advocacy organization.
Magen is an independent, non-profit, sex-abuse victims support and advocacy organization, based in Israel, with an in-depth understanding of the US/Israel seminary culture.
If you are a victim of Elimelech Meisels, or witnessed or experienced any other abuse/grooming as a seminary student, you can contact/speak in confidence with Shana or Ruty: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Magen's 24/6 hotline +972-2-9999.678 (then press 1).
There are also other fine (non-Jewish) victims support and advocacy organizations in the USA. (Specific suggestions/recommendations welcome).