Friday, March 12, 2010

A Devil Gets His Due

I don’t know anything about Baruch Mordechai Lebovits (pictured) aside from what has been reported in the media.

Those reports have not been good. He is a Chasidic travel agent and brother of the Nikolsburg Rebbe. He is also a married man with 5 children and 20 grandchildren. And he has been convicted on 8 out of 10 counts of sexual molestation. It took jurors only three hour to reach that verdict.

The evidence must have been pretty damning. And yet the verdict was met by gasps and sobs from Lebovits’s supporters. What’s more the verdict does not even take into account suspicions that he was somehow involved with Motti Borger, the young Chasan who jumped to his death a couple of days after his wedding.

The pain and suffering of sex abuse victims has been discussed many times in the media. A pain that only a victim can know. But little has been said about a molester’s family. Especially one where there seems to have been no clue about his abuse. Leibovits has proclaimed his innocence throughout the trial and his family believes him. As does his community.

I cannot imagine what they must be going through. What does his wife think? Does she still believe he is innocent? How does a loving child deal with all this testimony from victims about their father’s molestations of them? What thoughts can possibly be going through their minds now? They must love him as a father. And yet - how can they?! He led a double life. He seemed to raise a decent family, and was a respected member of his community. These accusations - and now conviction - must have come as a real shock to everyone!

Mr. Lebovits has indeed been convicted. There little doubt about his guilt. He is a sick man and according experts who deal with these problems his sickness is an incurable one. His libido is ‘wired wrong’. I don’t think it can be unwired.

But I have no pity for him. His problem was not that he was ‘wired bad’ and had illicit sexual urges. It was that he acted to satisfy them in ways that were harmful to others. Devastatingly harmful. Many times!

Yet he denied it and did a pretty good job of hiding it. From his family and his from his friends. This makes him evil!

His loving family and friends still support him. I guess they just believe that all his victims were lying – and only he was telling the truth! That is how good his act was.

This is such a sad story. Nobody really wins here. The victims will still suffer the consequences of his actions. His family has no doubt been devastated. And his community is in denial.

There has been little good news for victims of sex abuse and molestation. As Michalel Orbach points out in his article in the Jewish Star:

An Israeli court refused to extradite Avrohom Mondrowitz, a Gerer chosid, who is thought to have abused dozens of Brooklyn boys in the 1980’s. Yehuda Kolko, an accused serial molester who worked as a rebbe in Yeshiva Torah Temimah was allowed to plead guilty to charges of child endangerment, a decision that was met with scorn by sexual abuse activists. They also suffered a setback when the Child Victims Rights Act, legislation that would have extended the statute of limitations for civil charges of sexual abuse, never made it to a vote of both houses of the New York Legislature.

But even though a lot of suffering has been caused by this man - at least justice has been served. Mr. Lebovits faces up to 30 years in prison. The verdict is in some ways a long awaited one in that it gives all victims of abuse at least a modicum of relief. They have felt ignored - or worse - rejected by their own community that seemed to just not care about them. But this verdict will help to change perception for them. At least this molester will pay a price.

What about all the other molesters that were guilty of sex abuse and got way with it? What about the Mondrowitz’s of the world who walk about freely? Someday their judgment will come. Either in this world or in the next.