Recording of the Aguda Conference May 16, 2011
Please be advised that I am still preparing my detailed response to the lecture. It has raised many, many questions for me from a halachic perspective as well as a practical one. Let me just ask the following for now, in the name of Rabbi Blau:
The lecture makes clear that according to Rabbi Gottesman's interpretation of halacha, abuse should never be reported without first consulting with a rabbi who is an expert on abuse for a halachic determination of the evidence. However, in Lakewood the rabbis who were appointed to deal with this issue in an informal beis din have all resigned, and appear not to want that particular responsibility.
(I believe there were two reasons for their resignation and disbanding the beis din. The rabbi apparently realized that in a case of a false allegation they could be held liable, and since they are not trained forensically, or psychologically or legally in the area of sexual abuse, their expertise in halacha does not qualify them as experts and they would have no leg to stand on should they be sued, which actually did happen once.
Furthermore, an Asbury Park Press article quoted the Ocean County Prosecutor Collen Lynch as saying that it is illegal for rabbis to hear allegations of abuse and not report it to child protective services. The reason she said this because in New Jersey they are mandated reporters, and failure to report is a crime punishable with a fine and possible jail time.)
So, the question is, if you can't go to the rabbis as this tape advises, and you can't go to the police without talking to the rabbis as this tape advises, Rabbi Blau and I and many, many people in Lakewood would like to know, is there anything at all that people are allowed to do to stop abusers in Lakewood, New Jersey according to halacha?