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Rabbi denies he knew of sexual abuse at Jewish school

JTA

February 21, 2013 | 7:41 am

A man under investigation for allegedly sexually abusing boys at a Sydney Jewish day school told police that senior rabbis knew of his actions but failed to report them to authorities, a newspaper reported.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday that the man told New South Wales police, who are investigating allegations that two men associated with the Yeshiva Centre in Bondi sexually abused children during the 1970s and 1980s, that he confessed to Rabbi PInchus Feldman 25 years ago, and was told to "take steps to avoid it."

American-born Feldman, the chief rabbi of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Sydney, denied any awareness of child sexual abuse inside his Orthodox institution, despite the allegations.

A statement issued Wednesday by Chabad in Sydney said: “This morning there was a media report that an anonymous individual currently under criminal investigation has alleged to have over a quarter of a century ago privately confessed child sex abuse crimes to Rabbi Feldman. Rabbi Feldman does not have any recollection of such a confession.”

Feldman, who was sent to Australia by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1964, added: “To make my position absolutely clear, I endorse the unequivocal rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of abuse to report to the police and I will continue to support the efforts of law enforcement agencies in investigating and taking action against these heinous crimes.”

Manny Waks, an advocate for child sex abuse victims, said he believed Chabad officials have “privately acknowledged that it was indeed aware of the abuse allegations” in the 1980s.

Waks claimed he’d been approached with information “alleging that the Yeshiva leadership responded to an alleged incident of child sexual abuse by apparently sending the perpetrator overseas.”

News of the police investigation of the two alleged Jewish cases of child sex abuse in Sydney, one of which is believed to involve a former employee of Chabad-Lubavitch, became public last week, according to the newspaper.

Neither of the men has been publicly named by the New South Wales police. The second alleged perpetrator, also Jewish, is understood to have moved overseas.

The allegations in Sydney come in the wake of multiple cases of alleged child sex abuse in Melbourne, most within the Orthodox community.

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