Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NY Times Article on Abuse in Frum Communities

(Hat tip: Harry-er) Good piece in the New York Times on sexual abuse (particularly of children) in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Of some 700 child sexual abuse cases brought in an average year, few involved members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community — about 180,000 followers of Hasidic and other sects who make up the largest such cluster outside Israel. Some years, there were one or two arrests, or none.

But in the past year, there have been 26. District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has brought charges against a variety of men — yeshiva teachers, rabbis, camp counselors, merchants and relatives of children. Eight have been convicted; 18 await trial.

If the sudden spike in prosecutions is startling, even more surprising is the apparent reason: ultra-Orthodox Jews, long forbidden to inform on one another without permission from the rabbis who lead them, are going to the police and prosecutors on their own.

[...] Now, a growing number of haredi Jews in Brooklyn say they do not think they can get justice from the rabbinical courts, which in several high-profile cases have exonerated people who were later criminally convicted of child abuse.
One of the best aspects of this is that it forces Batei Dinin to shape up their own approach to handling issues - if they aren't handling things properly, then people will simply go to the local or federal authorities who will. Hopefully, this will encourage Batei Dinin to take a more responsible approach to various issues within the community.