Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nahloat - the worst case of abuse or a witch hunt?

Tablet Magazine   Right now, Binyamin Satz, Benzion Primashelanu, and Zalman Cohen are in jail, charged with sodomy and violence against Israeli children. Six other men have been arrested, questioned on suspicions of the same, and released. A 70-year-old woman named Sarah Vorst was violently beaten by five men in February, her apartment ransacked, and her computer and telephone stolen—according to many because her attackers believed she was a mastermind behind the pedophiles’ plot.

To date, more than 70 children, nearly all from Haredi families in the tight-knit community of Nahlaot, have been interviewed by Social Services and have claimed to suffer severe sexual, psychological, physical, and ritual abuse at the hands of nearly 60 individuals. At least another 50 children have claimed abuse, though they were not interviewed by Social Services. The children have identified the perpetrators either by name or by telling characteristics: the one with the ponytail, the one who exercises, the filmer, the one with a walker, the one who wears a knitted kippah, and so on. Those accused include American immigrants, middle-aged men, elderly women (nearly half of those accused are female), geriatric couples, teenagers, mother-son teams, mentally handicapped individuals, at least one Arab, suspected Christian missionaries, and, more recently, a few prominent members of the community, including a rabbi. Some of those who have been identified by one or more children are unaware, or appear to be unaware, that they have been accused.

There was no hint of pedophilia in the community before October 2010. But the Haredi community in Nahlaot now believes that the highly organized ring has been operating secretly for years—possibly generations—and is governed by an elaborate hierarchy. According to community members with whom I’ve spoken over the past year, they believe that a small number of masterminds, including the 70-year-old Vorst, a convert to Judaism who directs Ohel Sarah Imenu, an organization that facilitates Haredi conversions, used formerly abused teenagers and mentally handicapped locals as scouts for the victims. Community members believe that these scouts watched the children and parents from outdoor locations that offered prime vantage points—under the guise of tending gardens, doing calisthenics, or panhandling—and memorized their schedules, recording when the children would be unsupervised. The pedophiles noted the schedules of various homeowners, residents of Nahlaot claim, and they allegedly snuck into dozens of apartments and sheds in the neighborhood in order to abuse the children, who have pointed out these locations to their parents. Many are convinced that there are Christian missionary motivations at play here and that false converts have infiltrated their community. A number of locals told me they believe that the videos and media produced by the pedophile ring are being sold for tens of thousands of dollars or more.[...[]

In the wake of these allegations, the neighborhood underwent an immediately noticeable change of spirit. No one could be trusted. Parents were daily being informed by their children and friends that neighbors they’d known for years, invited over for Shabbat meals, or given charity to, were actually perverted sadistic pedophiles who had been terrorizing their children in ways no one could imagine. At this point, seemingly no family has gone unaffected: In certain sections of the neighborhood, 100 percent of families have children, and often more than one, who have been reportedly abused. I have heard reports of a family with 10 children, all claiming abuse. [...]

“One of the real tragedies of these cases is that once contamination takes place, you can’t undo it,” said Lanning. And it is clear that the case in Nahlaot has been contaminated—in other words, the facts can no longer be reliably determined—whether by the parents, whom police say are at fault for asking their children leading questions, or the police, whom the community says provided no guidance and were generally incompetent. “I believe that in most of these cases, maybe not all of them, there are seeds of truth, something happened here,” says Lanning. “And then through a complicated process, however sadly and unfortunately, the whole thing got exaggerated and embellished, and the sad result may be that someone who did bad things to children may now get away with it.” [....]a


  1. We once again find evidence of false accusations against many innocent men.

    When will you gullible folks stop believing an accusation the moment you hear it. Especially accusations coming from children.

    1. Pat you fail to make the distinction which is clearly validated by many studies. Children who make accusations without prompting and being asked leading questions are rarely mistaken. However when adults get involed - as they did in Nachlaot or in divorce cases - where a child is primed by a parent - the likelihood of false accusations is very high.

    2. Gee, and how will you ferret out whenever parents or family or prosecutors or police or whomever either coach the child accuser or keeps pressuring her with leading questions until she "remembers" abuse?

      Many times it will go to trial with no one the wiser that the child's "remembering" of abuse was pulled out of her. It will be treated as if the child said it all on her own, uncoached. And result in false accusations and even convictions.

  2. Like Arthur Miller's Crucible ?

  3. The report neglects to mention that Zalman Cohen, the alleged serial molester and abuser who is in custody was the life coach for Sara Vorst' Ohel Sarah Imenu and some incidents happened in that school.

    There were complains against him but Vorst who at that time was riding high because of her connections to Tropper and Eisenstein brushed them off. Now Tropper and Eisenstein cannot protect her and the chickens come home to roost.

    Vorst used to torture converts and the beatings could not have happened to a more deserving person.


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