Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Abuse - children are valid witnesses I

Sho’el U’Me’shiv(1:185):... And here, in [the week of] Parashas Va’era, a letter reached me with testimony signed by three respected men, and one man who recognizes the signatures, and two young men testified, one who is now 15 years old and one who is today 13 years old or more, that in their youth when they learned from him, boys of around 9 years or less, he would defile them with homosexual intercourse, for they would sleep with him in a bed in the room where he lived, and the things came with much elaboration that is disgusting to put into writing. And this is what I responded: in truth, I already went on at length about this in a responsum, that to disqualify a person it is necessary that there be two kosher witnesses, and I brought the words of the Pri Chadash and the Ritva that to disqualify a person it requires two kosher witnesses, and that it is like capital matters. And if so, in this case, where they were minors at the time of the act and they are only believed to testify in their adulthood about what they saw in their childhood for questions of rabbinic law [not biblical], as elaborated in Choshen Mishpat siman 35, and here to disqualify a person they are certainly not believed. However, according to what the Mahari”k and the Terumas Ha-Deshen wrote, and the Rem”a set in the Shulchan Aruch, that in a situation where kosher witnesses are not necessary, even a woman and a minor child are believed. And if so, in this matter, where it is definitely impossible for there to be adult men, and it is impossible for there to be testimony in the matter, for without a doubt this man even if he is wicked and corrupt, but his acts are in secret and he only amuses himself with young children, and he is like one who (mislahleha be-zikim?) and says “I am only playing.” If so, it is obvious that they are believed to testify, and are we also [not - GS] coming to disqualify him from testimony and oaths but only say that perhaps he did this. And they already said in Niddah (61), this bad talk [i.e. lashon ha-ra], even though to accept it is not required, to be concerned however is required. And in Moed Kattan (18) they said that this bad talk—in any event some bit of it is true. And if so, however, woe unto us that in our days such a thing arose, that a man like this would be a teacher of young children of the study house, the breath of whose mouth is pure, and there is a concern that the breath of his unclean mouth will defile them. And therefore, in my opinion it is appropriate to remove the crown of education from his head, and they should worry for their lives until he fully repents with afflictions as appropriate, and then he will return to accept the status of a full community member and it will be for him atonement for his sins. And as long as he does not admit his sins repentance is inapplicable, as the Tevu'os Shor wrote in siman 2. And I went on at length about this in a responsum to Dravitch… And here, regarding what was written above from this bad talk, even though to accept it is not required, to be concerned however is required, I found afterward in the Mahari”k shoresh 188, that he wrote that this is specifically to save them that it is permitted to desist [based on the lashon ha-ra], but not to punish them with any punishment, and to embarrass them is prohibited based on bad talk. However, this is specific to the case there, where there was only bad talk. But here there was a testimony, even if there are no kosher witnesses it is worth more than (mere) bad talk, and it is obvious that one should desist from giving him students.

1 comment :

  1. What if the children testify while they are still minors?


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