Thursday, February 24, 2011

Abuse Case Tests Ohel’s Adherence To Reporting Laws

Jewish Week

As the story of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community has unfolded over the last several years, the issue of when, and even whether, to report such allegations to law enforcement has emerged as perhaps the most important and the most complicated.

One of the focal points of this debate — report to secular authorities or deal with the problem from inside the community — has become Ohel Children's Home and Family Services, a social service agency based in Brooklyn. Ohel has earned high praise in the community for the services it provides for foster children. Its work dealing with sexual abusers, however, is much more controversial, with many advocates and observers accusing the agency of functioning in a way that does more to protect the reputation of the community than the safety of its children. [...]


  1. Speaking as a former foster parent with OHEL, I can tell you they take confidentiality laws quite seriously. Which means that:
    1- they are complying with a legal obligation when they respect client confidentiality,
    2- OHEL is ill-equipped to defend themselves when cases are presented by people accusing them.

    Note that despite the spin the reporter gives the story, she too notes that "Further, because of confidentiality rules, the therapist treating Colmer was prohibited by law from notifying anyone in the community about the danger he posed to children unless Colmer signed a release or disclosed to the therapist that he was currently abusing or had serious thoughts of abusing a specific child (such information allows for the breach of confidentiality rules)."



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