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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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What Is Sexual Abuse?

Should a university be sued because their officials at that time misread those events as relatively harmless?
YU President Richard Joel (L) with past President Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm.

YU President Richard Joel (L) with past President Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm.
Photo Credit: Maxine Dovere

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Which is why teachers can no longer give a young kindergarten child a hug in the classroom. A teacher can in theory be dismissed for that. Some advocates might even support reporting it to the police. At least that was my impression from talking to that psychologist.

Another thing. How do we treat a victim who was abused in one of the lesser forms of abuse and then went on to have a normal life… a successful career. A successful marriage. Wonderful well adjusted children. Many years later he comes forward with his accusations and says he suffered emotionally because of it over the years. He makes his views public and proceeds to sue the institution. Is that Justice too?

What if the abuse was of the type described in a Yeshiva University affiliated high school where a principal wrestled with a few chosen students and the students could feel his erection through their clothing. Yes. It is absolutely disgusting. But is it the same as a more aggressive form of sexual abuse? Does it have the same effect on victims?I don’t know. I’m just asking questions.

Should a university be sued because their officials at that time misread those events as relatively harmless… or perhaps disbelieving them for a while until they finally took action to fire him?

Should a university be sued for not reporting the abuser to the police at the time? Would the police even have prosecuted this type of abuse?

Was keeping these events quiet unusual for that day?

Is it fair to say that this should be seen as cover-up to protect the university’s reputation? And even so, is there anything wrong with that if officials truly believed that the victim would not be harmed by covering it up… or perhaps might even benefit by it because he would be spared the ordeal of being embarrsed publicly? That is what the thinking was like then.

And finally should a well adjusted victim seek financial reward because he was abused in this way over 20 years ago or more earlier? Does a well adjusted victim of a 20 year old abuse need to be made whole in this manner? Is there any real justice here?

I am not saying he shouldn’t. Again – I am just asking questions.

Some abuse is obvious and devastating. The devastation can last a lifetime. Sometimes that lifetime can be short because of a suicide resulting from a feeling of despair and hopelessness! There is no question that those victims need to heal. Their lives have been turned upside down. Time should not be a factor for them. But I do not see all types of sexual abuse being the same… nor affecting victims in the same way.

I am not absolving YU officials both past and present from their responsibilities here. I am in favor of an investigation into the facts of those recent accusations by late coming victims. I am also in favor of full disclosure of that investigation. YU will be better off by full disclosure, and apologizing for past sins – even if their intentions at the time were not bad. But I am also in favor of justice for all… and not only the victim.

As in most things, sexual abuse is not always a black in white issue. There are unknowns about where to draw lines. There are too many factors to consider in each case. No two cases are alike nor should they be treated that way.

As I said at the outset, I am perplexed about what is right and wrong in some cases. As much as I want to see justice for victims of abuse – the last thing I want to see is an injustice in that cause.

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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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2 Responses to “What Is Sexual Abuse?”

  1. The temples were destroyed because of Sinat Chinam, hatred of Jews for one another.

    We live in a world of sinat chinum in Judaism. The temples were destroyed because Jews hated each other. I fear another Holocaust is around the corner if we Jews do not unite. Anti-Semitism is rampant in Europe and many countries are becoming Judenrein. Israel faces terrible enemies. Extremist Muslims are the new Nazis AND THEY DO NOT HIDE THEIR DESIRE TO DESTROY ISRAEL AND JEWS WORLDWIDE. Why are we Jews so eager to wash our dirty laundry in public for the entire world to see.

    Regarding Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, it does not matter whether he is Chabad or not as long as that is what he considers himself. Regarding whether he believes The Rebbe was the Mashiach, that is his opinion and his right to believe. This does not pertain to his innocence or guilt. There have been enough stories regarding the alleged incident. The same is true regarding the incidents at Yeshiva University. Let the courts decide guilt or innocence. Must we give anti-Semites more ammunition to hate us and want to destroy us. I know there will be those who may disagree with me and attack me using an alias. By now my readers know I say what I believe. I have been attacked in the press by an individual in this community stating I have no following. I speak out because it is the right thing to do.

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  2. Jewish Law and the Tragedy of Sexual Abuse of Children.
    – The Dilemma within the Orthodox Jewish Community.
    Steven H. Resnicoff* suggest everyone read this article RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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