A child abuse victim who blew the whistle on abuse within the Orthodox Chabad sect of Judaism in Australia has been awarded $804,170 in damages in a civil case brought against his perpetrator and serial abuser, David Cyprys, in Melbourne.
Manny Waks was about 13 years old when he was first abused by Cyprys at the Elwood synagogue, and he was also abused at the Chabad Yeshivah centre in Melbourne.
Cyprys held many roles within Yeshivah including caretaker, security guard, locksmith and martial arts instructor, and he also ran youth camps. He abused Waks for about two years, until 1990.
In 1992 Cyprys pleaded guilty to an indecent assault perpetrated against another child and was placed on a good behaviour bond for a period of three years, with no conviction recorded against him.
In 2013 a Melbourne jury found Cyprys guilty of five charges of rape against the same child. Following the jury’s decision, Cyprys pleaded guilty to a further 12 offences of child sexual abuse against other children.
While victims of Cyprys have sued the Yeshivah centre, Waks is the first victim to sue Cyprys directly. The damages awarded to Waks by Melbourne supreme court justice Jacinta Forbes include $200,000 in general damages, $37,348 in medical and other expenses, and $541,822 in loss of past and future earning capacity.
“The occurrence of offending is such that by its occurrence it has led to hurt and humiliation and to psychiatric injury,” Forbes said in her judgment. “He [Waks] describes days where he has a sense of paralysis and is unable to function at any level … Presently he contrasts times of being able to be productive giving him a sense of empowerment with other times of feeling futility and turmoil.”
In 2016 Waks, who now lives in Israel, established Kol v’Oz, an advocacy and support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the global Jewish community. He described the judgment as a “milestone in my personal journey”.
“I was determined to pursue justice against Cyprys in every way that I could – this serial paedophile has never expressed remorse or taken responsibility for his destructive abuse against so many children,” he said.
“Worse, he has forced some of his victims to endure further trauma, myself included, by contesting matters in court and in other ways. The two primary reasons for pursuing this case were justice and accountability.
“I’m fully aware that most victims and survivors of child sexual abuse never achieve any justice. I feel blessed and empowered to have managed to hold Cyprys to account – both criminally and civilly – and to hold to account Yeshivah civilly for facilitating my abuse, then covering it up and trying to intimidate me and my family due to my pursuit of justice.”