Monday, July 27, 2009

Abuse: Questions to ask your local rabbi


1. In a case where a father finds out that his son is being molested by a teacher and this is corroborated by several of his classmates. The abuse has been going on for a number of months. Thus there is absolutely no question that the abuser is active and the danger is present for the foreseeable future.

--- Since in my opinion I have clear and unequivocal evidence that the molesting is taking place - can I go directly to the police. Or do I need rabbinic approval first?

---- Is there a difference whether the likelihood of another incident is clearcut and urgent or whether there is clearly time to consult rav?

2. A person reported Reuben as an abuser or attacked Reuven because he reasonable thought Reuven was a rodef and needed to save Reuven's apparent victim from harm and he hurt Reuven in the process. It was discovered that the Reuven not in fact an abuser or rodef – is the person liable for damages? For example I see a man and woman fighting and the woman is screaming. I go over and warn to guy to stop but he tells me to mind my own business. the women seems to be in danger and the ownly way I can stop the attacker is by taking a baseball bat and knocking him out. It turns out they are married and the wife sues me for hurting her husband.

3. In a case where a rav said not to report a case of abuse and as a result the child suffered severe physical and psychological damage – is there any liability for either the rav or the person who listened to the rav?

4. In a case where a person reasonable concluded that a child is being molested and a rav told him not to report it – should the person report it anyway?

9 comments :

  1. Question: "--- Since in my opinion I have clear and unequivocal evidence that the molesting is taking place - can I go directly to the police. Or do I need rabbinic approval first?"

    My opinion: The father may go directly to the police, without consulting a rabbi. There is no genuine sheilah for the father to ask. The father knows the answer on his own.

    Question: "---- Is there a difference whether the likelihood of another incident is clearcut and urgent or whether there is clearly time to consult rav?"

    For an incident with evidence not as strong (raglayim l'davar, kulo d'lo passik), the father, or someone else, would do better to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer, with some experience in the area, would have a better handle on the evidence needed for the government to prosecute. However, I would not object to the father also consulting with a competent rabbi who also has experience in this area.

    Nevertheless, behind the second question is the assumption that there area cases which lack urgency. There aren't any. There is a high propensity for pedophiles to repeat their crimes. The risk is ever-present. The need for speedy action is essential.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 3. In a case where a rav said not to report a case of abuse and as a result the child suffered severe physical and psychological damage – is there any liability for either the rav or the person who listened to the rav?

    Opinion: Some jurisdictions designate clergy as mandated reporters of abuse. Depending upon the statute, the rav might be liable.

    4. In a case where a person reasonable concluded that a child is being molested and a rav told him not to report it – should the person report it anyway?

    Opinion: Yes. The rav is wrong.


    I'm not clear about question 2, so I'll pass.

    ReplyDelete
  3. modern chassidishJuly 27, 2009 at 11:28 PM

    #2 you gave an example that I am not sure if it relates to the concept described.

    If a person acts to save someone, acted in good faith, but as a result of his efforts he does harm in the process, is he liable?

    Well his intentions were good, the outcome was bad.

    In the USA some states have a "good Samaritan" law which protects those who act out of "good faith"

    Is there an equivalent concept in Halacha?

    I am not sure.

    I am inclined to say he would be liable al pi din. Although his intent was good, he had the facts wrong and adam moed liolam.

    Before using physicall or violent intervention one must do their homework (due diligence). A failure to ascertain the facts is where the negligence is.

    I am curious if others agree.

    ReplyDelete
  4. #2 you gave an example that I am not sure if it relates to the concept described.

    If a person acts to save someone, acted in good faith, but as a result of his efforts he does harm in the process, is he liable?
    ===============
    This is fairly typical of abuse cases. You are not sure but you feel that if you don't act now then the person will be in danger. If you call the police and the person is innocent - do we go by your intent or what you accomplished? Similarly if you don't act for fear of making a mistake - are you liable for your failure to help?

    ReplyDelete
  5. modern chassidishJuly 27, 2009 at 11:42 PM

    I think you can call the police and be assured that an investigation will uncover the truth. If your actions are in good faith and your suspicions are based on reasonable evidence (not hearsay) then you have a duty to act. This would be different than if you decided to beat up a molester but found out it was a mistake.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "I think you can call the police and be assured that an investigation will uncover the truth."

    From what I read, in too many cases the truth is not uncovered, i.e. evidence is not sufficient to convict.

    ReplyDelete
  7. just svoross (which probably mean nothing anyway)

    regarding 2: bepashtus should lieable, for odom muad lolom, but possible if it is "oness gamur" he may be patur. the question is this calle d"onnais gamur"?

    anothe rhalacha we have: a nirdaf that brakes other people's kelim is chayav. should we say that if he mistakenly damaged the one whom he thought to be rodef, that he is not less than another person or is this different (there are times that "mazik brishut" is patur?),

    3
    there are halachot governing when a dayan is liable for mistake made by his pssak. a whole chapter in sannhedrin and a whole siman in CM siman 25.

    ReplyDelete
  8. modernchassidishJuly 28, 2009 at 3:44 PM

    "From what I read, in too many cases the truth is not uncovered, i.e. evidence is not sufficient to convict."
    So, are you saying there is no point in reporting these things to police?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Let us not forget the all too common phenominon, especially in child abuse cases, of the innocent being convicted. In many cases this was later proven, after the "convict" already served years in prison, and his reputation destroyed.

    ReplyDelete

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED!
please use either your real name or a pseudonym.