Thursday, May 31, 2012

Doing the Right Thing - A Charedi Rav We Can All Be Proud Of

Readers of this blog may remember a post I wrote about Williamsburg’s Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed therapist about to go on trial for sexually abusing one of his young female patients. At the end of that post I wrote the following:
What I do hope happens is that the energy expended here continues at trial and that the victim will have as many supporters present in the courtroom as the defendant will.
It looks as though this might happen. And the man who is responsible for it is a Charedi Rav by the name of Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. He just posted an essay on his website entitled: Stand With the Survivors - Our Children are not Hefker (Part II). Here is an excerpt: 
We are once again asking our readers to display a similar show of support for the brave family of the young woman who was allegedly abused by Nechemya Weberman (Kings County Supreme Court Case # 01589-2011) in light of the pressure being directed at them from certain community members who would want the charges dropped.
 The hearing will take place in the Kings County Supreme Court, 320 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 on Thursday, June 14th at 9:00 a.m. 
Once again, Rabbi Horowitz shows that he is a man of action and not just words. This is not the first time he done something like this. He did the same thing 16 months ago during the trial of another child molester.

Considering the level of harassmanet Rabbi Weberman’s community is capable of and its history of it - which includes intimidating victims, their families, witnesses, and supporters, it is no small feat of courage to publicly make this call. He may very well get some of that harassment himself. I’m sure he is quite aware of that.

And yet he is going public in the face of that community’s resolve to defend the alleged abuser since they fully accept his denials as the truth and consider the victim to be a liar.  This community pulls no punches when they act on their beliefs. Here is another excerpt that demonstrates this. It involves parents of an abuse victim that were encouraged to report it to the police: 
During the initial meeting with his parents, they expressed genuine concern and even fear of pursuing this matter, as they were warned that friends of this well-connected perpetrator will harm them or worse. (The warning had been issued to them earlier through back channels.)
 During our initial meeting with the Queens District Attorney, I mentioned the “intimidation factor” and explained to them how these things work – the 3:00 a.m. anonymous phone calls, pizza deliveries in the middle of the night, on and on. 
Rabbi Horowitz might be getting some pizza delivered to his house at that hour too as a result of this public call.

I can only stand in awe of this man’s level of courage in support of yet another victim of abuse. What if the accused is innocent as his community believes him to be? That is for the courts to decide. But as Rabbi Horowitz points out: 
Think about it. Why would anyone in their right mind make a claim of being abused if it didn't happen? All the more so because there is unfortunately a stigma attached to the individuals and the families of victims of abuse. Going public and helping to get the perpetrator apprehended in order to protect the lives of other innocent children, often comes at great personal cost to the survivors and their families. With all this in mind, we must stand with them until this is sorted out. 
Could not agree more.  Those who are able to do it, should show up and support the victim. You can be sure that the accused will have his supporters there in spades. Countering that in a public courtroom for the judge (and if there is media attention for the whole world to see) will not only support the victim and his family, it will support all victims by showing that the Orthodox Jewish community as well as all people of goodwill really do care about justice. And it will  be a Kiddush HaShem to boot.

At the very least - please also consider posting a comment on Rabbi Horowitz's website in support of the victim.