Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dozens Arrested in New York State Child Pornography Investigation

NY Times In what law enforcement officials have described as the largest-ever enforcement operation in New York going after people who “possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children,” 70 people have been arrested across the state and charged with crimes involving the exploitation of children.

The people arrested include two police officers, two registered nurses, a paramedic, an au pair, and an individual who served as both a den master with the Boy Scouts of America and a Little League baseball coach.

The arrests, made in recent weeks, came after investigators were able to surreptitiously infiltrate peer-to-peer file-sharing networks in the New York City metropolitan area used by people seeking to distribute and acquire images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit activities.

During the course of the investigation, known as Operation Caireen, law enforcement officials monitored activity on some 150 Internet Protocol addresses for more than a month, from April 4 to May 15. [...]

On Jan. 23, Brian Fanelli, chief of the Mount Pleasant Police Department in Valhalla, N.Y., was arrested and charged with the possession of child pornography.

The charges stunned the small northern Westchester County community where Mr. Fanelli was well liked and had taught children in religious classes at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shrub Oak, N.Y., how to be alert to sexual abuse.

On March 5, Samuel Waldman, a rabbi and an instructor of Judaic studies, was arrested at his residence in Brooklyn. He was also charged with possession of child pornography.

Law enforcement officials said those two cases provided critical information that led to the broader operation.


  1. What is the toeless [justification according to Torah Law]
    for distributing this very negative information?

    With no toeless, this article is pure slander!

    1. @Mr. Cohen for you it is obvious that any problem in the frum community needs to be covered up. No one should know about child abuse or that there are people addicted to pornography on the internet, no divorce problems or fraud.

      For the rest of us who need to now the problem and who want the who want this behavior stopped - it is obvious what the toeless is.

      Since you don't understand - it is best if you find yourself something else to read

    2. @DaasTorah, I entirely agree with you and I think you run a fantastic blog. However, when I send various links to colleagues and the blogposts criticize or expose rabbis for being corrupt, I am met with resistance and them saying they don't want to read it because it is lashon hara.
      I would welcome a blog post that gives a halachic perspective on the need to use a public forum in some cases and why it overrides the issur of lashon hara.

    3. @Lashon hara. It is not very complicated. To'eles means to'eles and it doesnt override the issur - there is no issur. We have discussed this a number of times. See Rav Elchonon Wasserman which is also the view of the Chazon Ish and others

      Rav Elcohon Wasserman (Kovetz Ha’aros Yevamos #70): ...It would seem that all that is prohibited between people (bein adam l’chavero) is only prohibited when done in a harmful and destructive manner without justification. For example regarding the prohibition of “Not hating your brother.” This is only prohibited for gratuitous hatred (sinas chinom). In other words when he is not doing anything wrong (davar ervah). However if he is doing something wrong then it is permitted to hate him. It is important to note that the reason for hatred being permitted in this case is not because of the fact that a sinful person is not considered your “brother.” Tosfos (Pesachim 113b) explains that if you hate this sinful person for another reason then you transgress the prohibition. The hatred is only permitted because of the bad (davar ervah) that you see in him. Similarly regarding the prohibition of beating another, the Rambam writes that it is prohibited only if done as fighting (derech netzoyan). This is clear from the fact that it is permitted for a teacher to his student. And this that we noted before in Sanhedrin (84b) – that is only a rabbinic restriction. And similarly concerning the prohibition of causing anguish to a widow or orphan, Rambam (Hilchos De’os 6:10) writes that if it is done to teach Torah or a trade – there is no prohibition. Similarly concerning the prohibition of lashon harah, it is permitted against people who cause discord and quarrels in order to stop the fight. Similar concerning using words to cause anguish (onas devarim), it is permitted publicly criticize someone publicly if it is for the sake of chastisement. It is even permitted to publicly embarrass someone if it is done for the necessity of chastisement for a person who has not stopped his bad behavior after being rebuked in private. In such a case it is even permissible to curse him. In fact this is what was done by the prophets in the past as the Rambam (Hilchos De’os 6:8) notes. We thus shown from all this, that all the prohibition involving interpersonal actions do not apply when the act is beneficial.

    4. Pischei Tshuva (O.C. 156): I want to note here that while all the books of mussar are greatly concerned about the sin of lashon harah, I am greatly concerned about the opposite problem. I want to protest about the even greater and more common sin of refraining from speaking negatively when it is necessary to save someone from being harmed. For example if you saw a person waiting in ambush to kill someone or breaking into someone’s house or store at night. Is it conceivable that you would refrain from notifying the intended victim to protect himself from the assailant - because of the prohibition of speaking lashon harah? By not saying anything you commit the unbearable sin of transgressing the prohibition of Vayikra (19:16): Do not speak lashon harah [but] do not stand idly by when the blood of your fellow man is threatened? By not speaking up, you violate the mitzva of returning that which is lost to its owner Devarim (22:2). Now if you can understand the obvious necessity of speaking up in these cases then what is the difference between a robber breaking into someone’s house or store or seeing that his servants are secretly stealing from him or that his partner is deceiving him in their business or that another person is cheating him in commerce or that he is lending money to someone that you know doesn’t repay? How is this different from stopping a proposed marriage to someone you know is a wicked person who would be a horrible husband…. From where do we get the mistaken idea that in the case of murder, I will speak up but that it is prohibited to say anything in other situations where someone is being harmed?

    5. Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Yechava Daas 4:60): … In fact this is the way to understand the verse regarding lashon harah. “Do not speak lashon harah but don’t stand idly by concerning the blood of your fellow.” Even though there is a prohibition of lashon harah, nevertheless the second clause of the verse tells you that it is conditional on this not causing harm. Therefore you are obligated to inform others regarding certain matters in order to them to guard against loss and danger. This is expressed in Nidah (61a) that even though it is prohibited to listen to lashon harah but you should protect yourself from the potential danger you hear about. The Rambam (Mitzva 297) says that protecting another’s money is also included in “don’t stand idly by concerning the blood of your fellow.” … Therefore even if there is only a financial loss, one should inform your fellow man in order that he can protect himself from those who want to harm him. And surely when there is a possible danger to an individual or a group.

    6. Rav Sternbuch (Teshuvos v'hanhagos 1:839): Question: A a teacher asks his students to reveal who did something wrong. - is this permitted? Answer: It would seem that the teacher first has to say to his student that the prohibition of lashon harah is very severe. However since this is l'toeles there is no prohibition of lashon harah. (See Chofetz Chaim 4 and the statement of the Alter of Kelm in Marpeh Lashon said in the name of Rav Yisroel Salanter with clear proofs that whatever is for to'eles is not prohibited as lashon harah). In this case it is clearly for the benefit of the chinuch of the student and therefore there is no concern that this is lashon harah. In fact just the opposite because just as there is a prohibition to speak negatively about others - there is an obligation to inform the teacher so that he is able to properly chastise the student and thus it is not considered lashon harah at all.

  2. Vaad mishmeres haznus convenesMay 22, 2014 at 3:00 AM

    for an emergency sex appeal on behalf of pidyon menuvolim. He faces life in prison and a jew does not belong there. All the fixers and machers are busy and misaskin betzoro dilhon, while he is osek bechedvoso dilei. What a chilul H', we need to gather in stadiums to stop the Internet from being a shliach lehoylocho.

  3. Is it true that the Yetser Hora affects everyone?
    Why not pretend that it doesn't. This way Mr. Cohen will read this blog without fear.

  4. Stopping people becoming addicted to pornography is a great To'eles indeed. But is that accomplished in any way by this blog? If you're serious about the To'eles, why not provide links to organisations who help these people? Or are you just trying to embarrass those who have been caught just a little bit more, hoping that by doing so you are disincentivising future sinners?

    1. Chaim why are you claiming I am not serious about helping - but am simply lying about my motives. That I get my kicks from debasing others and try to wrap myself in a veneer of piety?obviously you hold that there is only one way to do things. Why not accuse me of running this blog for years "just to embarrass people" - or perhaps you are. If you really think I am such a degenerate creature why are you wasting time reading and commenting?

      I have heard this nonsense many times "You are making the chilul hashem for revealing this information - not the one who molested children, stole millions of dollars, abused his wife etc etc." It is the nonsense that if we close our eyes then the world can't see what disgusting things are going our community. It is the nonsense that talmidei chachomim can't really be criminals and if they did do aveira "x" they have done teshuva - so there is no need to talk about it.

      Rashi (Yoma 86b): Publicize the hypocrites – These people are wicked but they represent themselves as righteous. Therefore if someone is aware of their deeds – it is a mitzva to publicize them because of chillul HaShem. That is because people learn from their deeds since they think they are tzadikim. Furthermore when they are punished from Heaven, people says “what benefit is merit to protect against suffering.”

  5. Daas Torah,

    You have got me all wrong. I never made any "claims" about anything. I was, and am, genuinely interested to know what you sought to accomplish by publicising this information. Your first two paragraphs seem to view me as the embodiment of all your critics, and it is them that you are replying, not to me. I never accused you of anything, I never wrote that you are making a Chillul Hashem, or that an average "Talmid Chacham" must have done Teshuva, or that our policy should be to "close our eyes" etc. Zero, zilch and nada.

    I also never said that your goal was the embarrassment itself - I conjectured that you thought that embarrassing these people would deter others from going down a similar road in the future, which is similar (but not identical) to the idea of the Rashi in Yoma which you cite.

    Actually, even if there would be no תועלת at all in publicising this scandal, it is far from clear that it would be Ossur to do so - whether because of Chillul Hashem or Lashon HaRa - simply because it is ידוע ומפורסם already. (Let's not get into a discussion of the Chafetz Chaim's extremely restructive ruling on באפי תלתא). But it would still be perfectly reasonable to ask: what To'eles is there?

    Also, it would seem to me that only Rashi's second סברא is applicable in this situation. His first סברא has no bearing whatsoever - are you seriously worried that if you don't publicise it, people will think that looking at child pornography is OK because a Talmid Chacham did it? And if so, how are you showing that it is not OK?

  6. Sorry for misunderstanding your post. this issue has come up repeatedly - generally criticizing me. Why don't we turn this around - please write a guest post on it - describing the issues and possible justification

  7. unfortunately this resistance to know is widespread. Rav Sternbuch has a teshuva about a principal who doesn't want to hear claims of child abuse about teachers because it is lashon harah. The issue as I noted before is the issue of to'eles. The Chofetz Chaim takes an extreme position on this and people are machmir on top of this. Any issue which might require taking responsiblity or might damage someone's image or relatives is dealt with by claiming it is lashon harah and that absolves people of the obligation to act.

  8. I am not able to write a guest post at the present time. However, one source which MUST be studied is the Gem. Moed Katan 17a:

    אמר רב הונא באושא התקינו אב בית דין שסרח אין מנדין אותו אלא אומר לו
    {מלכים ב
    יד-י} הכבד ושב בביתך חזר וסרח מנדין אותו מפני חילול השם
    ופליגא דריש לקיש דאמר ריש לקיש תלמיד חכם שסרח אין מנדין אותו בפרהסיא שנאמר
    {הושע ד-ה} וכשלת
    היום וכשל גם נביא עמך לילה כסהו כלילה

    The Rambam and Shulchan Aruch rule like Reish Lakish. It seems that notwithstanding Rav Huna's logic, because of considerations of Chillul Hashem the Talmid Chacham's excommunication is to be done privately. This may have bearing on your policy of reporting the sexual misdeeds of a Talmid Chacham on this blog. I would be interested to know how a Posek would view the issue.

  9. A famous conversation between a tanna and a student told his rebbe, "The innkeeper is great." "But her eyes were off."
    "You are guilty of 2 things: thinking I am so vain and noticing her looks."
    Interestingly, he doesn't say that he said loshon hora about the innkeepers looks. I believe there are countless examples where loshon horas status as a bonfire issur is put into question in the gemara.


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