Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kannoim Strong-arm Twerski Off Molestation Panel

Top Doc Scared Off Panel On Rabbinic Sex Molesters
by Hella Winston

A prominent Orthodox rabbi and psychologist has been intimidated into quitting as head of a just-formed task force dealing with rabbinic sex abuse of minors, organized by Assemblyman Dov Hikind this week.

Dr. Benzion Twerski told The Jewish Week Wednesday that he was quitting the task force because “I was prosecuted in the street for daring to join such a venture.”

“To protect myself, my family, and reputation, I decided to withdraw from this project,” he wrote in an e-mail as the paper was going to press with a story announcing Hikind’s formation of the task force. “From this point, I am avoiding participation in any forms of public service. Public life is not for me.”

Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat who represents Borough Park and Flatbush, deplored Twerski’s abrupt departure from his new panel.

“He was basically forced to resign,” said Hikind. “He was literally put against the wall, and he felt he had no choice. We’ll get somebody else who’s very respected. But that’s not the point. The point is they got to him, they threatened him.”

Twerski’s dramatic departure came just as Hikind was rolling out the new panel, planned as the next step in a personal crusade against child sex abuse in the Orthodox community that he has come to view as an epidemic.

Hikind said he had amassed a dossier with the cases of “hundreds” of individuals who say they have been sexually molested by rabbis and other Orthodox community members during their childhood. And he threatened to broadcast the names of their abusers if community leaders do not respond to his call for action against them.

“Let me tell you,” he said in an interview last week, “when there’s a person who we have confirmed through a variety of people has been doing terrible things” and those who know refuse to go to the authorities, “I am prepared to name names. I am prepared to be sued by those pedophiles. If they’re innocent, let them sue me.”

Neither man would specify the nature of the threats made against Twerski to force his departure. But Hikind called them “pathetic and sad.”

“My heart goes out to him,” he said. “I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. Things are opening up, people are coming forward, but we are still so far away.”

This story is absolutely pathetic. I really hate what those self-important holier-than-thou protectors of child molesters are doing. Friggin' Taliban Kannoim. Somehow in their screwed up little minds, they think making a serious attempt to put a stop to rabbinical child abuse is somehow a potential damage to their community. Their priorities are totally screwed up and each person who pressured Dr. Twerski - or frankly aided or abetted this apparent policy of secrecy and cover-up generally - is morally responsible for each and every child molested since their obstruction of justice. Make no mistake, that is what they are doing and by right they ought to have their own seats right next to the actual molesters when they have their day in court. Utterly disgusting.

On the bright side though, I'm very glad to see Dov Hikind stepping up to the plate on this one. I'm surprised to see it, since I've generally not been impressed with his public service to date, but I give credit where credit is due. Frankly, I'm glad to see people of some note making motions to control this festering disease deep in the underbelly of the Orthodox community.