UK's Channel Four Exposes Rabbinical Cover Up of Child Abuse

(Note: You Tube removed the video which was initially embedded here)

The UK Channel Four "Dispatches" investigative program broadcasted "Britain's Hidden Child Abuse" this week.

The documentary was made over a one year period, and visits the chareidi communities of London, Manchester & New York.

In London, an anonymous (to us) Chareidi rabbi is interviewed, who tells how a child was allegedly mollested in the community, who then told his parents, who went to the police. The community rabbinical leadership and many members subsequently intimidated and shunned the victim's family, charging them with "mesirah" (betrayal to the non-Jewish authorities).

Another alleged child abuse victim, now an adult (Moshe) is wired up by Channel Four, and then meets and secretly videos Rabbi Ephraim Padwa. Moshe tells Rav Padwa that he was sexually abused as a child, and Rav Padwa tells him, repeatedly, from several angles, not to report to the police.

The Channel Four interviewer then speaks with a community figure, Mrs Ita Symonds, an elderly lady who helps the needy, who is remarkably forthright and confident in defending the community policy of dealing with child abuse allegations as an internal matter. She adds that IF the community try and fail to 'deal with' a specific threat, they would then turn to the police.

The Channel Four team then moves up the M62 to Manchester, where Moshe is again wired up and meets with Dayan Osher Westheim, an Av Beit Din. Moshe tells Dayan Westheim that Moshe was sexually abused by someone now teaching i a school in Manchester.

Dayan Westheim appears more sophisticated that Rav Padwa, and says he is aware that he faces imprisonment if he explicitly tells a crime victim not to go to the police. He therefore more subtly dissuades Moshe, mainly by claiming the police will not act effectively (or at all)  if Moshe does report. In the discussion, Dayan Westheim claims that he is already investigating "the case" (without Moshe even identifying the man he's referring to) and if he finds the allegations are true, would remove the teacher from the school and send the perpetrator for therapy.  

The program interviews a member of what sounds like a modesy patrol, or other gang of chareidi vigilantes who himself was raped as a child. In view of the ban on contacting the police, and the ineffectiveness of the rabbinical leadership, this gang has taken to beating up alledged child molesters in the community - around 15 of them over the years, he says.

"Dispatches" then heads to New York, to cover the infamous Weberman case, homing in on the Satmar community dinner to raise money for Weberman's defence. They interview a spokesman for the community who defends the community policy of rallying around the alleged perpetrator, but not around the victim.

The team then interviews Ben Hirsh of Survivors for Justice, who is working to promote the rights of child abuse victims in the Jewish community.

All in all, it is a dark day for the Jewish community that the non-Jewish media are the only party who are able  and willing to apply pressure on the chareidi community to finally drop their discredited policies of treating child abuse allegations as an "internal community issue".

On the other hand, hopefully this exposure will encourage child abuse victims and their families to come forward, putting their and the community's childrens' safety ahead of blind community obeisance.


  1. sickening that these rabbi's are still brushing things under the carpet. i loved the bit where rabbi Padwa said the alleged perpetrator would not feel "comfortable" with a police investigation. well tough. that is what you ask for when you commit these crimes mate!!!! The whole thing is sick, sick sick and i hope that this film might make the rabbis think again about their approach to child sex abuse allegations. shame also that is casts a bad light on the Haredi community as a whole.

  2. Youtube blocked the video due to copyright.

  3. Thanks Warren.

    I've taken it down and adapted this article as a summary and review of the programme.

  4. Shockerooney! London's shady haredi establishment calls the video a lie

  5. I really don't think that Dayan Westheim acted poorly. He clearly stated that the guy "should go to the police if he felt that it would help", that the guy should name names for the sake of other kids. All he said was that he had experienced occasions when the police had refused to act (from the Jimmy Saville case - it is clear that his experiences could well be accurate), and that they could be "wild". We don't know anything about the other case he was referring to with a teacher - whether or not there was any real evidence or not, and whether or not the accuser wanted to go to the police. He seemed to me to be speaking sensitively to a reasonably self assured adult who was however reluctant to make too many waves but was understandably reluctant to have to the police before and to have name his abuser, but who was clearly concerned about preventing future abuse. Channel 4 mistranslated "al pi halakah" as "permitted" but this is better translated "as this is would you should really be doing according to the letter of the Torah". They tried to trap him with the concealed camera but found little to be ashamed of, even if he was perhaps being a little bit more candid off the record.

  6. Indeed, Anonymous, the secretly videoed interview with Dayan Westheim is not the same sound-byte scoop as the interview with Rabbi Padwa.

    Dayan Westheim states that he is aware that telling someone not to go to the police will get him in hot water (actually, he says get him into prison). So, obviously he's not going to do that. He then moves on to state the official line - "of course, you are entitled to go to the police". He even goes one step further to dispel the messira factor, saying it's OK "al pi halacha".

    And then the Dayan reals off a list of reasonable sounding reasons NOT to go to the police.

    Here in Beit Shemesh, some rabbonim, school principals, therapists etc, take a similar position as Dayan Westheim.

    They tell child abuse victims and their families:

    "Of course you CAN go to the authorities, but now let me explain why you SHOULDN'T."

  7. Here's a link to the full program

  8. Sorry, forgot the link:


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