Sunday, June 26, 2016

Meir Pogrow: Why wasn't he stopped by people who clearly knew he was a danger years ago?

A common complaint in some quarters as well as from some the comments on this blog is why the rabbis did nothing until now about Meir Pogrow. In particular why they didn't stop his teaching career. I have responded, Why only the rabbis ones are being criticized are rabbis - and not the bloggers and pscyhologists and others who knew about it but did not publicize the matter?

 The simple answer is there was not any solid evidence against him and that apparently none of his victims was willing to file a complaint against him. Furthermore he apparently was careful to only seduce adult women and this was not a crime until after the Motti Elon accusations a number of years ago when it was made a crime in Israel for a teacher to have sexual relations with a student. It is only a crime in some states for a teacher or rabbis or other senior figure to have sex with a subordinate. It is also clear that in fact his teaching career was severely curtailed and that eventually no one wanted to hire him.

Question remains as to what mechanism is available for publicizing such predators. You might recall that I was recently threatened with criminal charges  by a pedophile for merely reporting the public information that he had been convicted, served a jail term and is currently listed on the sex offenders registry in America. Rabbi Yakov Horowitz was in fact sued by the same pedophile for the same reason.

Unorthodox Jew    Paul Mendlowitz  June 23, 2016

I was informed Meir Pogrow, allegedly, was a sexual predator many years ago, and asked to post about him...The issue was, at the time, I could not get written and signed testimony from at least 2 women/girls that were willing to put their names on the allegations. I did all I could do in private communications with various people to stop Pogrow from remaining a teacher. I believed them, people do not make these things up. I am happy that they found the strength to come forward with their stories. I wish them all the very best in their healing process and the best life has to offer.

Times of Israel by Dr. Michael Salamon June 24, 2016

Pogrow, often referred to as a brilliant and charismatic Torah, scholar taught at Yeshiva University High Schools in Los Angeles, Michlahlah seminary in Jerusalem, and at the Kollel of Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and Austin, Texas. He first appeared on my radar about eight years ago when Riva (not her real name) a woman in her early twenties came to therapy following some time at the seminary in Israel. She was anxious, depressed, and afraid that she could never get married or ever trust men. She described a relationship with a rabbi at the seminary who was challenging but also extremely demanding. She complained, “He got into my head somehow and it messed me up.” As we worked through Riva’s anguish and concerns, she described how a man of prominence used his position and his intellect to groom her, manipulate her, and ultimately have her do his bidding. With time, she told me his name.

I checked back with other young women I had worked with who attended the same schools. None had been willing to provide his name in the past, but when I asked if it was he, they all said yes. I asked Riva to report him. She felt that she could not because on the one occasion that she had tried, the administrator she went to did not believe her. In fact, Riva said that she felt “belittled” by the person to whom she tried to report him.

With Riva’s permission, I called someone I had contact with to report Pogrow. I was told, “He is a problem, but because the women are adults there is nothing that can be done.” I tried another person. “He is a bad guy,” I was told with little more than a shrug of the shoulders.

This situation is unfortunately no different from far too many others. Abusers are often smart, manipulative professional liars who choose victims carefully and deliberately and abuse victims repeatedly. Overwhelmingly, when someone finally gets the courage to overcome the resistance to make a complaint, it must be treated as a fact. Unfortunately, reports of abuse are still minimized. If someone reports having being abused, it is a fact that they are telling the truth.People in position of power do not want to deal with bad news particularly if it may harm their institution.

This hesitancy allowed Pogrow and others like him to get away with their evil. Even in cases where a director or board acts against an abuser and dismisses him, there is no attempt to alert other organizations and protect other potential victims. Ultimately, this gives the perpetrator license to keep at his evil.

The Beit Din ruling addresses some of these errors, albeit late. The call for restricting contact with this abuser should apply to all abusers and we should not have to wait 20 years for an abusers name to be broadcast.

Frum Follies Yerachmiel Lopin  June 20, 2016

Pogrow’s misconduct was known for many years by many parties. In 2001 he was forced out of employment by the Michlala Seminary in Jerusalem because of sexual exploitation of students. His wife was kept on and she kept bringing home students and she was kept on for quite a few years. But nobody else was publicly warned.

After six years of working for Aish Hatorah including one running their kollel in Austin, Texas, he was forced out around 2006 for sexual misconduct with women.

He formed Master Torah in 2007 because nobody would hire him. Over the years he had fewer and fewer speaking engagements in mainstream orthodox settings because word kept spreading about him and he was largely confined, if hired, to work with males. The last significant engagement I can find was 2011 with Chabad. Yet the broader public was not warned.

Yerachmiel, sounds like you are well acquainted with the whole history. So I am left wondering why we had to wait for Tamara Schoor? Why didn’t you come out with something before she had to stick her neck out publicly?
Keep up your great work

Considerations that I am not free to disclose. I did in fact investigate extensively hoping for this moment. You will notice that my recent post on Pogrow had a lot, and there is a lot more coming out, most of it gained through research I did two years ago.

I guess those considerations must be very serious. It must be a difficult balance to strike, between keeping confidences on the one hand, and on the other hand knowing that more innocents could fall victim at any time. Maybe you could write about that balance…

06/23/2016 AT 8:47 PM
We lived in the Pogrow’s neighborhood. 17 years ago, Pogrow was arrested for inappropriate sexual misconduct with a 10 year old boy who took a ride with him as did other kids to school each day in the Old City. He was released on bale and four years later the case was closed. Two of the minors who witnessed the abuse on several occasions and even a rabbi who travelled in the,car daily who admitted that Pogrow’s verbal banter in the car was inappropriate and that he himself would not have wanted his child to be in the car with Pogrow, refused to give evidence. They were friends of Pogrow and even though they knew his crime, they preferred to protect the pervert rather than protect future victims. Imagine how many destroyed lives could have been saved if people who knew of his sick perverse side had done the responsible thing and acted upon צדק צדק תרדוף.

Dr. Natan Slifkin   June 23, 2016

I first heard reports about Meir's inappropriate behavior over a decade ago. That itself, however, obviously raises a question. While these cases are complicated, and there are all kinds of factors to consider, there remains to be more light shed on why it took so long for the condemnation to appear, and how last week he could be perfectly acceptable as a maggid shiur but this week he is a rasha with whom one must not associate. (I am not saying that there aren't any good answers to this question - there may well be. But I think that, if there are good answers, they should be made known, rather than leaving it up to people to speculate.)

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