Rabbi charged with rape, sexual assault, sodomy against a minor
By JEREMY SHARON 12/18/2016
According to the indictment, Harrison, now 58, initiated direct contact with the complainant after he was her substitute teacher at Beit Shulamit in December 2009. In an indictment sheet of horrifying allegations, Rabbi David Harrison, who taught at the Beit Shulamit religious girls high school in Jerusalem, was charged with dozens of counts of rape, sodomy, sexual assault, assault and intimidation through threats against a former pupil, who was a minor at the time.
The complainant, a woman now aged 21, filed a charge of rape and other allegations against the rabbi at the beginning of the month claiming that they took place over a period of several months when she was 14.
Harrison has spent his career as a teacher and educator, and has also worked extensively performing wedding ceremonies for couples without a personal connection to a rabbi. Harrison began work at Beit Shulamit, in the Ramot neighborhood, as a part-time teacher in September 2007 but was fired in June 2010.
According to the indictment, Harrison, now 58, initiated direct contact with the complainant in December 2009, after he was her substitute teacher at Beit Shulamit.
A few days later, he met the pupil close to her classroom and asked her to accompany him to a staff room where he gave her worksheets to hand out to another class.
On this and several other occasions, Harrison allegedly touched the student on her hand, arm, stomach and chest, but apologized immediately for having touched her.
At a later stage, Harrison allegedly called the pupil to the same staff room used specifically by the rabbis of the school and which could be locked from the inside.
When she entered, Harrison allegedly locked the door behind her and told her to sit down, whereupon he took off his pants and underwear, and forced her to perform oral sex, while telling her that it was all right because he was a rabbi, that it was a secret between them and threatening to harm her if she told anyone.
In the next incident after this assault, Harrison allegedly met the girl at the entrance to the school and told her to come with him to a bomb shelter in the building, divided into two rooms. According to the indictment he pushed her into the inner room of the shelter, and told her to undress, slapping her in the face when he told her she was undressing too slowly.
He then hit her again, forced her to lie on a table in the room and then raped her. Afterwards he told her that she’d had fun, and that so had he, and that she had been a good girl. He again threatened to harm her and that he would tell everyone she was a prostitute if she spoke with anyone about what he had done.
According to the charge sheet, Harrison raped the girl between two and four times a week, including sodomy. On one occasion the day after he raped her, he forced her to swallow an emergency contraception or “morning after” pill.
During May 2010, the complainant was ill and was away from school. When she returned, Harrison allegedly ordered her to meet him in the shelter and scolded her for having been away without informing him.
He then allegedly ordered her to strip and beat her for several minutes, and then raped her once again.
The beatings occurred on other occasions as well, in which Harrison would kick the pupil, beat her with his belt, and in one incident threw a chair at her, bruising and scratching her.
Harrison would allegedly repeatedly threaten to harm her if she did not do as he instructed, and threatened to tell her parents and others that she had initiated sex with him and that they would believe him and not her because he was a rabbi.
He also threatened that he would have her expelled from school, that no other schools would accept her, and threatened to send other people to harm her and even kill her.
The state has requested that Harrison be incarcerated until the end of the legal proceedings against him.
The director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Orit Sulitzeanu, described the allegations as “outrageous and terrifying” and said that such crimes required a severe punishment.
“This criminal exploitation by an educator and religious figure is unforgivable,” said Sulitzeanu.
“This incident demonstrates the urgent need to ensure that advisers are placed in all educational frameworks who will be able to identify and deal with sexual violence, and for pupils to attend workshops for the prevention of sexual violence.”
Harrison denies the allegations against him and says he does not even know the woman.
Child abuse royal commission: Rabbi inaction failed abuse victims within Yeshiva community
The royal commission has delivered its findings into child abuse at Jewish institutions in Melbourne and Sydney, saying that abuse victims were let down by rabbis and their “confused” adherence to the Jewish law Mesirah, leaving them vulnerable to paedophiles.
The commission found many of the lead rabbis at Yeshiva Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi, as well as synagogues and schools in Sydney and Melbourne followed “a pattern of total inaction” that was wholly inadequate.
Three commissioners found a “marked absence of supportive leadership for survivors of abuse” and the incorrect application of Jewish law left those who spoke out criticised and isolated.
Mesirah is the religious concept stopping a Jewish person informing upon another to a secular authority. To do so would make them a “Moser”.
Mixed messages produced inaction
Those who spoke out where strongly criticised and confusion reigned about whether reporting abuse to police was forbidden, the report found.
“If anything, the mixed messages were likely to have produced inaction,” the report said.
Four victims of sexual abuse, along with leading rabbis within the Chabad movement, gave evidence about child abuse in Yeshiva Colleges and centres in Melbourne and Bondi last year.
Convicted paedophiles David Cyprys, Rabbi David Kramer and Daniel Hayman were all the subjects of allegations of abuse by parents and students between 1984 and 2000.
“It is perhaps unsurprising that a community described in the evidence as being insular, would be concerned by communication with those external to the community about child sexual abuse reportedly perpetrated by Jews,” the report said.
“We are satisfied that, for the period from 1984 to 2007, the Yeshiva College Melbourne did not have adequate policies, processes and practices for responding to complaints.”
Child abuse ‘uncommon’
Senior Sydney rabbi Yosef Feldman provoked controversy when he told the royal commission he would be “asking for more leniency” for reformed or inactive paedophiles
In its findings, the commission was critical of his ignorance about what constituted child abuse.
“Rabbi Feldman freely admitted to a lack of technical knowledge about child sexual abuse but expressed the belief that his ignorance was unimportant,” the report said.
He told the commission he believed child abuse to be “uncommon”.
“He did not hear of child sexual abuse or complaints of child sexual abuse ‘much’ and believed that ‘only’ 5 to 10 per cent of the community ‘are involved’ in child sexual abuse,” the report said.
Rabbinic Council of Australia and New Zealand public statement in response to the Royal Commission Report
30 November 2016
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Report of Case Study No. 22. The response of Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse made against people associated with those institutions
The Executive of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand (RCANZ), The Rabbinical Council of New South Wales (RCNSW) and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) are grateful for yesterday’s report by the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse at Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne, and deeply distressed by its contents.
Child sexual abuse has caused unimaginable suffering to the victims in our community, and RCANZ, RCNSW and RCV and their members are totally committed to removing this scourge from our community and from our institutions. We offer our deepest sympathies to the victims and commit ourselves to learning from the failures of the past.
As the Royal Commission has made clear, child sexual abuse was allowed to continue because of actions and inaction by some rabbis and community leaders. Victims were not always believed or supported, adding to the trauma.
We restate a ruling that has been made many times before, that Jewish law requires all allegations of child sexual abuse to be reported immediately to the police and other relevant government authorities. We encourage all professionals working in the Jewish community whose work brings them into any contact with young people to receive specific and detailed training in child protection. We urge all synagogues and schools in our community to ensure proper governance procedures to oversee the work of their staff, to ensure that failings are identified and corrected.
We call on those who have been identified in the report as not fulfilling their legal obligations to protect children to stand down from their public positions. We believe that those who denigrated or undermined the victims have lost their moral right to serve as leaders in our communities. The Rabbinate must demonstrate that Judaism and the Jewish community will not tolerate child sexual abuse and those who perpetrate it, and must support those who have suffered.
We hope and pray that this report will help our community and others to keep children safe, and ensure that no child in the Jewish community, or throughout Australia, will ever again suffer the horrors of sexual abuse.
No member of the signatory bodies with a conflict of interest took part in the drafting of this statement. For further information please contact Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton, Secretary of RCANZ via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melbourne Yeshivah Centre public statement in response to the Royal Commission Report
29 November 2016
28 Cheshvan 5777
29th November, 2016
Dear Community Members
Today, the ‘Report of Case Study No. 22’ was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament. The Yeshivah Centre is currently reviewing the Report and expects to make a more detailed statement in the near future.
As you are aware, in February 2015, the Yeshivah Centre was the subject of a Royal Commission into ‘Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’. This followed the incarceration of two perpetrators of child sexual abuse, both of whom held roles in different capacities at the Centre. The Commission focussed on the institutional response to these crimes.
The Yeshivah Centre deeply regrets its failure to protect those who were victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by people in a position of trust in the Yeshivah Centre and its schools. We condemn any form of abuse and acknowledge the serious harm it causes, both at the time of the abuse and later in life, for victims and their families.
The Yeshivah Centre Board and staff have been working hard to properly respond to these issues and ensure that we embed policies and processes of the highest standards to create a safe environment for our children, and to support and show compassion for victims and their families. The Yeshivah Centre’s number one priority is the safety of the children in its care, and we will continue to take all possible steps to maintain and continually raise this standard. We also need to ensure that we continue to support and show compassion for victims and their families.
In September this year, the Commission invited us to present our current policies and procedures in relation to child protection and child-safe standards and the steps taken across the Centre following the Royal Commission hearing. We submitted information in relation to:
The newly established governance framework (with elections closing 7 December 2016);
Our accreditation from the Australian Childhood Foundation (Chabad Youth in 2014 and YeshivahBeth Rivkah Colleges in March 2016); and
The establishment of an independently operated Redress Scheme for past victims of Child Sexual Abuse.
In its executive summary and media release the Report notes that:
The evidence identified that Yeshivah Melbourne has taken significant steps in implementing structured child protection measures, including drafting formal policies and giving training to children, parents and staff.
We are aware that the process of growth and change that the Centre has embraced over the past few years will continue to present us with some challenges along the way. However, we firmly believe that this process of change and the new representative governance structures now being established will bring us forward towards a stronger, brighter and safer future.
The Yeshivah Centre encourages anyone who has experienced sexual abuse at Yeshivah Centre (Melbourne) to contact the independently operated redress scheme via the confidential email email@example.com or the police (contact the Moorabbin SOCIT unit on 9556-6124).
Compounding the Cruelty of Abuse by Entertaining a Lawsuit Against one Brave Rabbi Willing to Stand up and Protect Abused Children.
We at LM hope that THE DAILY BEAST does not object to our decision to post the entire article from top to bottom. We would like to see rabbis and parents, teachers and other children applauded and praised for coming forward to protect abused children.
The children are precluded from suing the Rabbis who abuse them, the rabbis who use their Rabbinical stature as a tool for abuse, a corridor into the destruction of the very children they are entrusted to protect.
One Rabbi, knowing that Israel does not have a sex offender registry, tried to protect those children by tweeting about their abuser. He is now embroiled in a lawsuit over it.
We feel strongly that if the courts do not dismiss this lawsuit, they are encouraging silence. They are complicit in the crimes committed against the abused children.
We feel it is important to send the message that the courts, the communities and the families will commend Rabbis who come forward, thereby encouraging them to do so. Anything short of that, in our view, is just another act of cruelty and injustice against abused children.
Sex Offender Sues Rabbi for Tweets Alerting Families in Israel
A prominent ultra-Orthodox Jewish school has reached secret settlements worth $2.1 million with two former students who accused their teacher of molesting them, the New York Post reports. The students were two of several who have accused the man, Rabbi Joel “Yehuda” Kolko, of sexually abusing them, dating back to the 1970s. Experts the tabloid consulted said that this is the first known settlement to come out of child molestation cases in the city’s Haredi Jewish enclaves.
The settlements came to light because the school, Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Kensington, allegedly failed to pay $1 million of the total promised, leading the alleged victims to sue.
The accusers’ lawsuits claimed that the yeshiva has received credible allegations that Kolko was molesting students going back 25 years, but allowed him to retain his role as an elementary school teacher and failed to report the allegations to the police. Rabbis at the school investigated claims of Kolko’s abuse in 1985 and found him innocent, according to a decision obtained by the blog Failed Messiah. In addition to five who sued, at least four other alleged victims have come forward since 2005, The Jewish Week reported, but their cases were beyond the statute of limitations for bringing civil or criminal suits. A lawyer for victims told New York magazine that as many as 20 people had contacted him saying Kolko had abused them.
Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes reached a sweetheart plea deal with Kolko in 2012 related to the accusations of two alleged victims. The deal allowed Kolko to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and avoid jail time. Hynes’s office claimed that the parents wouldn’t allow the boys to testify, but the parents said that was a lie, and that they were shocked by the deal.
Hynes’s office also dismissed claims of witness tampering by the yeshiva and its supporters, including threatening phone calls the father of an alleged victim said traced back to the school, and a lawyer for the school allegedly contacting the victim’s therapist and asking the therapist to pressure the family. The lawyer denied the claim, which the therapist memorialized in a sworn affidavit.
The settlements are a positive step for victims in ultra-Orthodox communities, where going to the secular authorities with claims against fellow Jews can be considered sinful, according to one authority on the subject.
“If word gets out, other schools will think twice if they hear about abuse,” Rabbi Yosef Blau, spiritual adviser to Yeshiva University and victim rights advocate, told the Post.
Victims seeking recourse in the criminal justice system currently must do so before the age of 23, or 21 if implicating an institution, according to New York’s statute of limitations. A bill currently before the state legislature seeks to extend the statute.
ONE OF OUR CONTRIBUTORS RECEIVED THIS LETTER TODAY, REPRESENTING WHAT WE VIEW AS SHEER AND UTTER HYPOCRISY.
WE ASK, WE PLEAD, THAT YOU PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO CHABAD.
THERE REALLY IS NO TELLING TO WHOM THE MONEY IS BEING DELIVERED AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE THE MONEY IS BEING USED. 2.3M HAS ALREADY BEEN “LOANED” TO PLATINUM PARTNERS AND THE GREAT PHILANTHROPISTS OF THE CHABAD COMMUNITY….
WHERE ELSE ARE YOUR GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS GOING? DO YOU REALLY KNOW FOR CERTAIN?
WE BELIEVE THAT YOUR DONATED MONEY IS LINING THE POCKETS OF THE CORRUPT, BEING USED TO COVER UP THE SECRETS OF SEXUAL ABUSE, DRUG ABUSE AND DEPRESSION, EPIDEMICS WITHIN THE CHABAD COMMUNITY.
WE ARE CONVINCED THAT THE MONEY WILL MAKE THE GRAND RABBIS VERY WEALTHY.
WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT MUCH, IF ANYTHING AT ALL, WILL BE USED TO HELP THE POOR.
LM – 10/11/15
By the Grace of G-d
Erev Yom Kippur, 5777 • October 11, 2016
A few hours before the onset of Yom Kippur each year, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, would enter the synagogue for prayer, holding a bag of coins. The tables were covered with scores, perhaps hundreds, of charity plates, representing an array of causes, from food for the poor and assistance for needy brides, to schools and mitzvah campaigns and more.
Despite his impossibly tight schedule, the Rebbe would deliberately and carefully place coins into every plate, taking great care not to skip a single one. Each represented a community or an individual who needed help, materially or spiritually.
In his urgent desire to help each individual, the Rebbe did not consider even one of them to be insignificant.
• • •
Emulating this extraordinary example, when we dig deep into our own resources to fill the plates of others, we encourage G-d to throw open His bank account of abundant blessings to each of us, to be judged with mercy and compassion for a truly happy, healthy and sweet year. And G-d, we know, has plenty to give.
• • •
At Chabad.org, where millions regularly turn to fill their plates with spiritual inspiration, Torah learning, or practical tools to enrich their Jewish experience, we try to do our part.
Year-round our rabbis, editors, programmers and designers work with extraordinary urgency and devotion, motivated by the constant awareness that at the other end of the screen is an individual — millions of individuals! — who seek a lifeline.
Our team is able to fill those needs only thanks to wonderful, caring people like you who, recognizing the importance of this mission, happily partner with us to provide the necessary funding.
May your charitable partnership stand you in good stead as G-d opens His bank account wide, to bestow all of the deepest of His blessings upon you, your family and the entire world, to be inscribed and sealed for a Good and Sweet New Year!
The Chabad.org Team
P.S. – For all of your final Yom Kippur informational needs, please visit our Yom Kippur site. For one of the many inspiring talks by the Rebbe listed there, click here.
P.P.S. – If you have already partnered with us during this campaign, we apologize for the repeated emails. We are trying our hardest to avoid duplication and we are most grateful to you for your support!
Also, if you are unable or unwilling to contribute, please note that this request is not a requirement but simply an appeal to those who are able to help. You are always welcome to enjoy our website and subscriptions, regardless of whether you make a contribution.