Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rav Sternbuch: Written psak to report Kolko to police

Cautionary note: Even though in the case addressed in the letter there was a confession, Rav Sternbuch has told me that is not a necessary condition to require going to the police. I did not post this as a teshuva - since Rav Sternbuch did not write it to explicate the parameters for reporting. For those interested his views are discussed in details in my books on abuse as well as various postings that can be found by searching for "police" on this blog. THE REASON I POSTED IT IS TO SHOW THAT THERE ARE GEDOLIM WHO REQUIRE GOING TO THE POLICE -  contrary to what one would conclude who has been following the  pronouncements of the Lakewood establishment and Rav Belsky concerning child abuse.

Update 5/ 23/ 13: A rough translation is:
Concerning your question regarding someone who is suspected of the disgusting and serious crime [of pedophilia], And there are those who claim he confessed and a high level rav verified that there seems to be a solid basis to the suspicions and it is also well known that this disease [pedophilia] is difficult [for the pedophile to stop abusing children]. Therefore we are obligated to report him because he is a danger to the community. In addition someone who interferes with reporting him can possibly be causing additional harm to the community. In particular in our days where pedophilia has become widespread - we are obligated to report him. See the Taz Yoreh Deah, #154.

ט"ז יורה דעה סימן קנז

(ח) חייב מיתה כשבע בן בכרי. - נראה דלהכי נקטיה כשבע בן בכרי דאע"פ דבדין תורה לא היה חייב מיתה אלא מצד חוק המלכות שמרד בדוד מ"מ מוסרין אותו אם יחדוהו ומינה אף בזמנינו מי שפושע ומורד במלכות שלו מוסרין אותו וה"ה בשאר עבירות שאחד מוחזק בהם כגון עוסק בזיופי' או שאר דברים שיש בהם סכנה פשיטא שמוסרין אותו ומן הראוי למסור אותו אפי' אם לא יחדוהו כיון שהוא כמו רודף לשאר ישראל ע"י מעשיו הרעים שעושה בפשיעה כן נראה לי בזה ועוד נראה לי דבמקום שאין מוסרין אותו אין חילוק בין מסירה למיתה או לשאר יסורים או אפילו לממון דלענין יסורים פשיטא שהם גרועים ממיתה כדאמרינן באלו נערות (דף ל"ג) אלמלא נגדוהו לחנניא מישאל ועזריה הוה פלחו לצלמא ויליף מזה דיסורים קשים ממיתה ויליף דמלקות חמור ממיתה וראיה דהא בירושלמי לא קאמר תבעיתיה מלכא להריגה אלא סתם תבעיתיה אפשר ליסורין לחוד (ואין) [ויש] לנו להחמיר מספק ואפי' לממון מצינו בפרק הגוזל בתרא דקאמר על זה קרא כתוא מכמר כיון שנפל בידי עובדי כוכבים שוב אין מרחמין עליו כן נראה לע"ד
[translation from my Child and Domestic Abuse volume II page 99]
Taz (Y.D. 157:8): If he is liable to the death penalty like Sheva ben Bichri. It would appear that the reason why Sheva ben Bichri is used as an example is that even though he was not liable to the death penalty according to the law of the Torah but rather according to the law of kings in that he had rebelled against Dovid – nevertheless he was handed over since he was singled out. We learn from this that even today that someone committed a transgression and rebelled against his secular government – he is to be handed over to the government. This is true for other sins that are inherently a danger to the community such as counterfeiting – they are handed over to the government. They are to be given over even if the government did not specify that particular person since he is like a rodef (pursuer) that is endanger the rest of the Jews by his bad deeds that are transgressions of the law. This is my opinion


  1. Again - only after a 'Rav Muvhak" has determined the validity!

    1. nope!. This has been fully discussed and reported on this blog search for police

    2. Rav Shternbuch: "And there are those who claim he confessed and a high level rav verified that there seems to be a solid basis to the suspicions... Therefore we are obligated to report him"

      Rav Shternbuch shlit"a, in this letter, is CLEARLY conditioning the person being reported, that there was both a confession AND a "high-level Rov" has "verified" that there is a "sold basis" for the accusations.

      A VERY HIGH hurdle.

    3. No that is not what is he saying and that is not what he told me.

      In fact in one case where I mentioned to him that there was a pedophile in Har Nof he said to call the police. There was no confession at all. While it is true that he is a high level rav - but there was no cross examination. It was simply as he said "that the world should not be hefker"

    4. I would like to ask DT a question. Perhaps a scientific answer isn't possible, but based on your knowledge, experience, and expertise in this field.
      Why does there appear to be a disproportionately high rate of child sexual abuse in haredi sector than in say the secular or general population in Israel? Take into consideration that in secular bastions such as Ramat Aviv, they have unhechsered restaurants, big TVs, internet, mixed beach. I am not saying they are immune, and crimes occur there as well. But why does all the "kedusha" that haredim wrap themselves up in cause the opposite of what they preach?

    5. Eddie there are no studies which show there is a higher rate in the chareidi sector.

      Each sector has factors - the secular has much availablity but I think there is also a greater likelihood of reporting. However much abuse goes unreported or just accepted such as date rape

      Chareidi world has less availability but greater ignorance and thus being a victim is easier - less likely to lead to be caught and reported.

      do you have a single source that backs up your assertion?

    6. Firstly, on here, previously, it has been mentioned that 2 experts speaking at conferences have stated that it is disproportionately higher within haredi (and orthodox world).

      next, a sample report,9171,1809880-1,00.html

      Third, considering that the haredi sector is a minority in Israel, most of the cases we hear about emanate from that sector. A number of high profile cases, and they tend to be rabbis, although not exclusively haredi, since some are MO and RZ.

      What "availability" do you refer to?

      Finally, if you argue that the rate is similar to that of other communities, then there is still a need to explain the great failure. The question was why is the insulation from the secular world, eg pornography, TV, smartphones etc giving reverse or no effects whatsoever?

    7. As far as I remember these are not based on objective statistics.

      Look at the story I posted about abuse of atheletes. There are many situations that lead to sexual abuse which are not relevant to the chareidi world. Military, dating etc are not available in the chareidi world but are significant sources of sexual abuse.

      Sorry - without a control group there is no way you can seriously make such assertions. Logically I can say that without these restrictions the rate would be much higher.

      Bottom line - there is too much abuse and there are too many coverups. what that means relative to other populations is siimply conjecture.

    8. Nobody is saying that abuse doesn't occur in secular settings.
      I would add a few letters to your sentence as follows: "IDEO-logically I can say that without these restrictions the rate would be much higher. ".
      The claim or belief is that these restrictions, eg TV , internet, secular education will lead to greater purity. In actual fact this is a stark failure.
      Nobody is attacking the Klal here, or yourself or Gedolim.
      One is reminded of the story where Chazal asked for the yetser hara to be removed, and the next day there were no eggs and no goods in the market. This story tells of unintended consequences of a gezeira. Perhaps it doesnt describe the mechanism, but if these restrictions really worked, then the abuse problem would be really small in orthodoxy, and it would be something we would be proud of, rather than embarrased by.

    9. Eddie what is your agenda here. You seem to be saying that attempts for purity are conterproductive so get rid of them. Is that your message?

    10. My agenda is to buy chollas for Shabbes.
      The question is whether or not these measures are productive or counterproductive.

      Having reviewed your arguments, it seems that your position is that "the yetser hara cannot be created or destroyed, but only converted from one form to another". So the restrictions limit the perpetrators largely to children and students, where the abuse is concentrated.
      I am largely in agreement with this statement.

      I think you are claiming that in fact the restrictions are to some degree contracting the yetser hara. That is the point I am in dispute with. Perhaps it is being channeled in a different direction.

      If, certain attempts for purity are in fact counterproductive - then new measures should be put in place. I am not saying getting rid of them would help. but perhaps they can be bolstered. A zero-tolerance policy, such as what you are advocating, is a very good policy, and should be adopted more widely.

    11. This may be a bit controversial, but I think he has a point here. I don't know the statistics and can't say that there is a higher percentage of issues in the Frum/Chareisi world, but there is a concept of Mayim Genuvim... I am not suggesting lax policies on Tznius or mixing of the sexes, but I am not an advocate either of the Israeli/Chareidi/Chasidish over-the-top policies that have come to the States either. One need only flip through the pages of the Tznius "bible" from England (I think its called Kvuda Bas Melach) to know what I mean... I for one would not let my HS and Seminary girls use it. I know the author is considered to be a Talmid Chacham... but the Chumros and extreme views are beyond comprehension.

      You are the psychologist here not me, but I would have to assume that when we create such an unnatural environment, beyond what the Torah dictates, we are asking for trouble. I would be curious to here your thoughts on this.

    12. Indeed the Chareidi community has one of the lowest sexual abuse rates of any large community. Although the secular media likes to make a big splash and cover every single alleged or real accusation of abuse in the Orthodox community, especially in the Hareidi community, it is in fact a story of man bites dog. The Jewish world itself has among the lowest sexual abuse crime rate, and within the Jewish people the Orthodox community in general have the lowest such rate, and within Orthodoxy Hareidim notably have the lowest such crime rate.

    13. Dick tracy, if your claims were actual fact, then the problem would be so severe amongst the Jewish world, compared to the Haredi/orthodox, that for example secular schools in Israel would be orgies, run by the teachers. And amongst teh gentiles, say in England, the entire population of adults would be in prison.
      However, your claims are pure fantasy. it is impossible for so many rabbis, senior yeshiva rabbis to be arrested for sex abuse if the rates were so low amongst Orthodoxy.

    14. Sadly, that is a statement with no scientific/epidemiological basis. It might be true, it might not be true. We don't really know. And as difficult as it is to properly perform appropriate studies in the secular world, in the chariedi world it's even harder.

      Rabbinical authorities make various statements; some concern this whose entire subject matter exists in the human heart and within the walls of the Beit Midrash. Some concern matters of more material reality, in which some sort of understanding of what is common, what is rare, what is the physical matzav enter in to the discussion.

      "The Chareidi community has one of the lowest sexual abuse rates of any large community" falls into the latter category: it is amenable at least in theory to being tested and confirmed or disproven by well conducted research.

      The Chareidi community, however seems even less amenable to testing this hypothesis than is the Modern Orthodox world.

    15. That the Chareidi community has an extremely low sexual molestation rate is easily demonstrable and proven by the fact that they have an extremely low sexual crimes conviction rate compared to both the secular Jewish community and very especially compared to the general population.

  2. Would you care to ask him whether this is the ONLY criteria that he finds acceptable? In particular, what if there was no Rav Muvhak, but a Mumche Muvhak?

    This is the critical question. In addition, ask him whether he considers Police Psychologists as Muvhakim as well.

    1. I have discussed this with him and reported it on this blog - search for police

  3. When someone is looking at this sheet of paper they can't search your blog. And it says "Rav Muvhak". So what does he really mean/hold?!?

  4. In the reprint is says as the year "tof shin mem eiyin". huh?

  5. DT
    Can you post what Rav Aharon lib Shteinman and Rav Kannievskky hold about reporting to police?

    1. if you send them to me I would be glad to post them. I have not seen that they have written anything on the matter

  6. In this specific case I don't think it was the usual "Only report when we say it's okay" that was the issue. It was that a major posek for the OU announced that after a "thorough investigation" he'd become convinced of Kolko's innocence therefore making reporting to the police mesirah.

  7. I just have one question for Rav Eidensohn. Most of religious Jewish communities have not had any real social autonomy since at least WW2. Many already did not have this even before that.

    Why do we suppose that our dayanim have the proper training to triage a claim for "reglayim l'davar" in the place of a preliminary hearing in a secular court for "probable cause."

    I will admit that I have no illusions as to the perfection anybodies state justice system. However can we compare our talmidei chachamim in matters of criminal justice with secular dayanim who try these cases day in and day out?

    1. A dayan or rabbi generally has no competence to investigate abuse issues, nor does he have the ability to compel witnesses to testify.

      At best a rav can see whether the claim seems to be serious and as Rav Sternbuch put it "in order that the world should not be hefker".

      If the claim seems to be serious and yet the rav says no - then Rav Sternbuch said to go to a different rav.

      Of course if person feels that someone might get hurt while he is running around trying to get a rav to give permission - he should simply go to the police. A case of rodef or what seems to be a possible rodef is not a judicial procedure but one of self-defense or protecting others. The same goes for mandated reporting. If you are mandated reporter and you will be violating the law if you do not report reasonable concerns - then report the reasonable concerns to the police. If you are a mandated reporter and the secular law does not mind if you consult with a rabbi or doctor or lawyer first - and there is no likelihood of someone being hurt by the delay - then consult first.

      In sum, going to a rav is primarily a formality in the same sense you would go to a beis din to get permission to go to secular court in cases where the beis din can't deal properly with the issue. It is not in order to determine whether the person is guilty. However if someone can be harmed (physically or financially) if you wait for beis din - then you have every right for self-protection.

    2. Thank you for responding. I did not talking about the possibility of a beit din actually trying a case. I was talking about going to a beit din or rav to get "permission" to go to a secular court. This is not the same thing as "consulting" with your rav. The key word difference here being "consulting" versus "getting permission."

      If a beit din decides whether or not there is reglyim l'davar in a criminal case, this is the essentially acting as an ad hoc substitute for the state criminal justice system. In other words they are conducting a preliminary hearing for probable cause. They are doing this without the same level of training and experience that judges do in secular courts.

      Again, I am not saying that state judges have the level of competency that TV shows like Law and Order might make them out to be. However we can see that there have been more than one or two mess ups with these reglyim l'davar proceedings. An informal consultation is one thing, however the very idea of having to get "permission" has led to catastrophic results.

  8. Your summary was inexact. Rav Sternbuch did not say it was permitted to go to the police. He said it was REQUIRED.

  9. a different opinion (perhaps this should be its own post).

    Molestation Cases Must be Handled by G’dolim, Not by ‘Experts’
    If you’re lucky enough to avoid losing your children, you’re still not home free.
    By: Rabbi William Handler

    I want to warn our Orthodox Jewish community of a new danger: the existence of a clique of pseudo-experts who are working among us in the field of “Criminal Molestation.”

    These “experts”—self-styled “helping professionals”— are actively seeking-out people whom they believe to be “molesters,” with the goal of turning them over to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

    See the URL below for the rest.


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