Journalism, Controversy, and Responsibility: halachic Analysis \ Steve Oppenheimer DDS
Mahari Weil, z"l, was asked about a community leader who had served the public for twenty years and now was being accused of inappropriate behavior. Was it appropriate to have a public investigation and give a detailed accounting to the public? He answered that an investigation should be conducted by a committee of trustworthy individuals appointed by the public. If this is not feasible, a dayan, a rabbinic judge, should appoint such a committee. The dayan should thoroughly investigate the matter so that the truth should emerge and justice prevail in this world. Unfortunately, he lamented; many communities are victimized by unscrupulous leaders who act more to serve their own interest rather than the interests of the community. These dishonorable leaders shirk their responsibility and further burden those who already suffer. The details of the investigation should not be discussed publicly, so as not to cause undue embarrassment to other involved parties.
We see that it is incumbent upon the community to appoint representatives from within its midst to examine the behavior of those who serve the public lest the weak and the vulnerable in the community suffer the consequences. In fact, based upon the responsum of Mahari Weil, the Ramo states that in order to be innocent before G-d and Israel, all people who deal with the community must give an accounting of their actions.
Any questionable behavior must be promptly investigated under the guidance of recognized poskim. While the details of the findings may not be revealed to the public, the public must be given assurance that the matter has been corrected properly and that the public interests have been protected.
Detailed revelation of the investigation may only serve to cause additional, unwarranted pain and embarrassment and this serves no public need.