Protecting the innocent and false accusations

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  • This topic has 47 replies, 22 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by mobico.
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  • #2045500
    simcha613
    Participant

    In light of the demand for proof in where there are accusations of abuse (especially when children are involved), I want to know how can we indeed protect the vulnerable and vilify the criminals in these cases? It’s important to understand, that the very nature of these terrible crimes are to take advantage of people in private. There is hardly ever any legitimate evidence in these situations. The victims are often children or other people who are vulnerable, who are often deeply ashamed of what happened to them, they often blame themselves, they are often threatened and coerced by the perpetrator, and often accusers are vilified by the public as being liars and other terrible things. Many hide what happened for many years, allowing the criminal to hurt more and more people. So, what can a victim do in these situations when there literally is no proof? How can they tell their story without being vilified by the public? How can they seek justice against a person who has likely caused a tremendous amount of damage to their lives? And most importantly, how can they bring this to the public’s attention in an effort to prevent this from happening to other innocent and vulnerable victims? Yes, we have a concept of dan lekaf zechus. Yes, we don’t want to ruin the life of someone innocent. But we also have the concept of not standing idly by when someone is being hurt. We also have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. How do we navigate that line where evidence doesn’t exist? How do we empower actual victims to come forward, even without evidence, while preventing those who are fabricating some tale? If there are multiple accusers, each without evidence, does that strengthen the case? Should we automatically remove someone in a position to harm children with a single accusation? Do we take into account how common (or rare) false accusations are? If in the end, we cannot differentiate between truth and lies, is there no recourse for actual victims? Is there no way to stop these criminals? And ultimately, what should be our priority? To make sure that no innocent person loses their job, livelihood, and family in wake of a false accusation? Or to make sure no child (or any person) falls victim to this kind of abuse? Which is the lesser of two evils? Punishing an innocent person or keeping a child in harm’s way?

    #2045523

    Please discuss this as a topic without discussing individuals and specific cases. Or risk deletion.

    Thanx

    #2045571
    boruchbrown123
    Participant

    Moderator, with respect, this is exactly the issue being discussed.
    Enough with the anonymisation and ‘protecting the accused’…the name of an abuser being publicised is warranted and should not ‘risk deletion’.

    #2045570
    Avi K
    Participant

    Mod, that sounds ominous.

    #2045537
    simcha613
    Participant

    My mistake. Will repost with the appropriate changes

    #2045565
    emesveyashar
    Participant

    This is a really important topic. If we could use it as an opportunity for a serious discussion we will be doing a great service to the tzibbur. Pls can we discuss it properly as mature adults and not let it ever off into side points or fall into the usual bickering of semantics. Moderators pls can you help with this.

    We should look at the world around us. We may have our own way of life and draw our own conclusions, but we can still learn from others experiences.

    For example: in the secular world, until recent decades, abuse was swept under the carpet. In recent years, with people being able to express themselves on social media freely, people are shocked by the abuse that others have suffered, primarily due to the much higher numbers then people suspected, but also due to who the alleged perpetrators were. People now understand that these can be anyone, family, friends, and yes, even famous and well liked people. For sure, there will be a number of these accusations which will be fake and will ruin lives unnecessarily.

    So to what extent do we take these accusations seriously? Does there have to be a certain number of them? Does their have to be a certain bar of evidence? Does it have to be proven in court/beis din?

    And what’s the alternative? Treat an accused person as innocent until proven guilty and potentially allow the abusive behaviours to continue?

    Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer. And whatever you do there will be victims.

    But ignoring the problem and brushing it under the carpet is for sure NOT the way forward.

    #2045566
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Being able to fully understand the topic enough to get straight to the point, would help the public conversation immensely.

    #2045567
    Sandy613
    Participant

    Yeshiva world being very careful about Loshen Hora all of a sudden

    #2045640
    philosopher
    Participant

    I always thought OTD boys were exaggerating that they claimed they were molested, I thought it was their excuse to go otd. But seeing the response from people in our communities I am thinking the problem may be bigger than I thought it is. The perp becomes the victim and everyone feels obligated to understand him and be dan l’kaf z’chus his behavior while the immense pain of the victims scream to the heaven but they just get a pat on the back while looking on in pain as their abusers are handled with kid gloves.

    Now if we were to discuss whether he was guilty or not is one thing. But I see people excusing predatory behavior! Unbelievable!

    #2045666
    The little I know
    Participant

    I find the dialogue here very disturbing. The severity of the alleged crimes is huge, no denying or minimizing that. The actions taken, however, can easily be done without attention to the rule of halacha, and to no one’s benefit.

    Here’s a fictitious scenario. Rabbi Ploni is alleged to have committed the unspeakable, with a number of victims who are minors. These victims need to say something, and they need to be taken seriously. Yes, proper interrogation and evaluation is critical. But all of this does not pronounce the alleged perpetrator guilty. Yet, we need to accept the complaints with appropriate seriousness to take whatever steps are needed to protect potential victims. This rebbe needs to step away from his charge immediately, without the fanfare of media and social media. There are halachos about safety, no different than halachos about not damaging a not-yet guilty man. And let’s not forget halachos of lashon horah.

    The percentage of false accusations does not need to be high to affect out approach. We would not accept erring about the minute chance of finding a bug in our vegetables, and we should not err here either. But that does not diminish our obligation to take necessary safety measures, and remove the alleged perpetrator from a position of power and easy access to potential victims.

    Treating the accused as innocent and allowing the situation of the past to continue might be a percentage of risk that we cannot take, whatever the number is. Err on the side of safety and caution. Publicity serves no one’s purpose, and harms without redeeming benefit.

    Yes, the anonymity of the accused needs to remain. No one has ever proven the safety gained by going public. I know the fanatic advocates in the area of child abuse will be incensed by my words. Well, that’s too bad.

    #2045680
    theshadchansays
    Participant

    im shepping Nachas;)

    #2045709
    simcha613
    Participant

    The Little I Know- I agree with some of what you say, disagree with others… but one thing in particular that I want to point out is the potential danger of the accused remaining anonymous. Let’s ignore the fact that people won’t know that he may be a danger to the vulnerable, and won’t protect themselves or their children suffciently, but what is going to happen if he remains anonymous? He temporarily loses his job as a precaution but no one knows why? It’s done silently and off the record? This kind of situation can lead to him finding another job with a potential new pool of victims. Maybe not in that community, maybe not even in that state, but if his alleged crimes remains hush hush, then that leaves open the possibility for his alleged crimes to continue. It’s certainly damaging and unfair if he is in fact innocent, but that’s the essence of the question, do we sacrifice public and child safety to protect the potentially innocent? And I’m not sure if that’s something we can sacrifice.

    #2045711
    ujm
    Participant

    TLIK: EXCELLENTLY stated. On the button and 100% correct.

    #2045712
    philosopher
    Participant

    The little I know, I do think not all accusations are true. But why do you think a Rebbe who says is innocent will step away from his job AUTOMATICALLY casting suspicion upon him? No one will do want to step away nor will administrations want to send away innocent people, even temporarily.

    Now what about a famous personality who is a therapist? Do you think he’ll just shut his business down until the matter is “investigated”? So how do you propose letting people know someone is under investigation and MAY be a threat to society while doing it all quietly and not letting people know about it?

    #2045751
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    lol unnamed mod

    #2045761
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    Why was his name posted?

    #2045786
    ramateshkolnik
    Participant

    This isn’t a direct response to the question – but as a community we have to know that these possibilities exist and work on reducing the risk and space for it to happen.

    I work in both schools and a shul in the UK where there is a huge emphasis on ensuring that there are no areas which are private. All offices and classrooms have windows to corridors, and those that don’t have CCTV. A lot of screening happens before recruiting. All programs, in and out of school, and shul programs, are thought through to ensure that the possibilities are reduced. Kids are taught in (some) schools about abuse (in an age appropriate way).

    I can’t answer the therapy question. But again, the therapist ideally shouldn’t be working alone, and should be visable to people outside their office.

    It works both ways. These measures are as much about protecting the victims as they are about protecting the potential accused from false accusations.

    A lot of responsibility lies with parents. Where are your kids, are they secluded with someone, whose around during their private lesson, therapy, after school shiur etc. Be strong and resist the sleepovers. In whoever’s house.

    This doesn’t answer the question of how to deal with somethingg that’s already allegedly happened, but hopefully cuts down the possibilities in the first place.

    #2045797

    Agree on prevention. If you establish safety rules: glass doors in key areas, etc, then any behavior that deviates from transparency will be noted early on. And possibly training of principals on such systems, and kashrus type certificate that principal implemented such a system

    #2045821
    bochurke
    Participant

    If he is a therapist the bet din has to tell him to go on vacation till we know he’s innocent and if not risk publication @philosopher

    #2045831
    smerel
    Participant

    If an investigation is ongoing those involved should HEAVILY, HEAVILY, HEAVILY stress that they do not know whether the accused is guilty or not, they are gathering information anyone who can help should please do so.

    That way on the one hand people know to be wary of the person but OTOH peoples life aren’t being destroyed over allegations. It also avoids t creating a heavy prejudice either way before the investigation even starts.

    (I heard from a lawyer involved in prosecuting these type of things that he tries very hard to get the media and social media involved in these cases because he knows that once they do the defendant has a zero percent chance of acquittal.)

    #2045864
    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    And while we’re at it why was the name removed and joe’s comments too

    Is the night mod different than the day mod?

    If you read my first post you will understand. Don’t know about a missing post though…

    #2045910
    philosopher
    Participant

    bochurke, if a therapist closes shop “until an investigation is concluded”, which can mean months and oftentimes years, the way it often works in bes din, everyone will know why he closed up shop and you can be sure that no therapist would be willing to do that and destroy his reputation and source of income. If a therapist is actually a pervert, chances are he wouldn’t care what the bes din says in any case.

    #2045931
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    There is no foolproof system. It is very complex. The most important factor is for it to be clear who is the one who makes the call. And that they liberate so much, that there is no possibility that they change their word after they close someone down.

    #2045932
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Therapy without complete privacy, would be very convoluted. In some instances, it would be totally useless.

    #2045937
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Philosopher,

    Even if he does not close up shop, he would lose all his referrals. The worst stories are where nobody bothered to not send the next victim.

    #2045938
    ujm
    Participant

    N0m: Would therapy in a glass see-through office/conference room that is completely sound-proof to the outside, that has people milling about outside able to see but unable to hear anything, be convoluted? It would seem the privacy is preserved.

    #2045941
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    People are in therapy to deal with outside effects that are feeds within their own psyche. The beginning stage, is when the patient Kearns to reach deep within to their most guarded secrets. To relax the patient to the point when there is nn one but themselves, while others can observe them, will be an unnecessary challenge. Additionally, patients have embarrassing reactions when they open up parts of themselves that have been hidden for years.

    #2045875
    doomsday
    Participant

    The Laws of Yichud protect both women/children but also ADULTS from FALSE accusations.

    No adult should work secluded with a child – put big windows on the doors of offices!

    But need to do more than Yichud – women should not be alone with a girl

    and Men should not be alone with a boy.

    #2045876
    doomsday
    Participant

    No Adult should ever be secluded with a child.

    There should be a big WINDOW on the door of offices.

    This includes no man being alone with a boy and no woman being alone with a girl.

    This will protect both women and children and protect adults from FALSE ACCUSATIONS!

    #2046053
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Doomday,

    The concept of Yichud is to deal with something else. Just never being alone together will not help one bit. If someone Jack’s their own moral code, they can do anything to anyone.

    #2046057
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Doomsday,

    Men can be abused, too. There have been false accusations against minors as well.

    #2046127

    > No adult should work secluded with a child

    glass doors and windows would help. In one college, a Rav designed a new building with his whole wall to the busy street being of glass. Some years later, a new Rav put curtains …

    Windows in classroom doors are also helpful for parents. I was once on a tour, with a school admin inviting us to seat in several classrooms. I managed to also quickly peak into small windows in other classrooms that we were not invited in and saw a more realistic picture of the classes.

    #2046130
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    other than to put down the schools again, and yet again, your last line served no other point

    #2046141

    Syag, my last point was that glass and sunshine are helpful in many aspects, literally and figuratively. For the record of my fairness, that was a MO school.

    #2046285
    inquisitive girl
    Participant

    In the school where I teach every room and corridor has an eye. This helps keep everybody safe, especially since there are many male and female staff and students. I feel safe all the time, even when I’m alone with somebody. Also, if a crazy parent wants to accuse a staff member of doing something, there will always be proof to check.
    Every school MUST have eyes. I think it’s illegal not to.

    #2046725
    Zaphod Beeblebrox
    Participant

    To me it seems that putting windows and glass doors in therapists offices wouldn’t be very conducive to productive sessions. Although the risk of anything untoward happening is significantly lowered, many people, especially children with low self esteem, would not be able to openly express themselves in a more open area where anyone can just look in and watch. The idea of cctv in every room seems like a much better idea, but only if there’s a trusted person outside of the school or office who is administrating them. Cameras are pretty much useless if an abuser can simply delete or doctor a recording at will. People need to know that if something happens they will be held accountable, with no way of covering this up.
    However, just cameras may not be enough. When I was in school they had cameras in every conceivable place(to the dismay of students trying to get away with things), and even with these precautions I still know of several incidents that happened just in the last few years, and I’m sure there’s many more that I don’t know about. Cameras have blind spots, and a determined predator will always find and exploit them. IMHO, the best possible precaution is to do more than destigmatize these issues in adult circles, where everybody is already pretty aware, now more than ever, of what can happen. The real issue is the children. If children will be afraid and unaware that this can unfortunately be a common occurrence, they will never come forward and the cycle will continue. Parents need to have conversations with their children, uncomfortable as it may be, and educators should speak openly about it in their classes. Schools should have assemblies discussing the issue frankly which will also serve the purpose of hopefully instilling fear in predators as well as spreading awareness.
    I don’t expect anyone to take my suggestions into account, it’s too uncomfortable and ‘if we talk to the teachers we can stop it’. Those people need to man (or woman) up and do what needs to be done, before more of our innocent children are hurt.

    #2046745
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Zaphod,

    That is a pretty good post! I think those that are advocating for less privacy are thinking of people that lose control over temptation. Your discussing serial predators. But I think that dear is not a deterrent for them.

    #2046749
    Participant
    Participant

    why was my post rejected?

    cuz editing can be tedious

    #2046766
    Participant
    Participant

    what had to be edited?

    the middle

    #2046769
    Participant
    Participant

    can you elaborate a bit?

    No?

    #2046885
    Zaphod Beeblebrox
    Participant

    @n0m, First of all thank you!
    I actually wasn’t thinking about serial predators when I wrote that, although I did take them into account. Most of the incidents I was referring to actually happened between children with no adults involved. The older kid who did it in one case was not a serial offender but rather the exact scenario of seeing a vulnerable younger kid and not being able to resist the temptation. If there would’ve been cctv present he never would have dared, but he managed to find a blind spot. Thankfully the victim was somehow mature enough despite his age to come forward, because his parents drilled into him from a young age what to do ch”v in this exact scenario. If more parents acted like these ones, perhaps this wouldn’t be as big a problem as it is.

    #2046921

    Zaphod > Most of the incidents I was referring to actually happened between children

    Without detracting from your main idea, I am also wondering how sensible is the prevailing approach of shoveling tens of kids of the same age into a classroom and educate and socialize them that way?

    This is obviously a practical way to deliver instruction to multiple children at the sane time, let them do work at the same time, and let the same teacher check multiple similar tests at the same time. But how would you educate a kid, given unlimited resources? I would probably put a kid in a small group of older people – some old to be an example of learning and behavior, some a little older than the kid so that he can relate to them, and let him listen and sometimes participate in the discussion. I would also let him work on his own a little to develop independent skills and sometimes to work with younger kids and explain material to them. Sitting in the room with other kids of similar skills and possibly worse behavior seems to have the least educational value.

    #2046945
    Zaphod Beeblebrox
    Participant

    @a_a_a can you please explain what on earth you are talking about/what you are trying to say? I am so very lost.

    #2046998
    Participant
    Participant

    what was wrong with my post?

    #2047072

    I am saying that it is not ideal to keep bunch of kids, esp teenagers, in one room and expect them to learn behavior from each other and one adult, who was appointed to that class. Ideally, you want the kid to be in a room with several well-behaving adults and maybe a couple of good peers. The problems that are discussed are following from that.

    #2047160
    Zaphod Beeblebrox
    Participant

    @a_a_a nearly every incident that I have heard of happened with an older kid abusing a younger one. Why would putting a young child into contact with MORE potential abusers be beneficial in any way? Especially when you consider the fact that these children, placed in a scenario that calls for limited interaction with kids their own age, would logically have far less social skills, which in turn would lead to a sense of low self esteem thus making them bigger and easier targets than they ever could have been in the traditional classroom setting.

    #2047301

    Zaphod, I am not giving practical advice, I am starting with an “ideal” scenario so that we can then tailor practical advise to that ideal, rather than to the “usual”.

    See how stereotypes work: you say that kids in this ideal scenario have less social skills. I contend that kids who interact with more mature kids/adults will have better social skills. This is a well-known fact, for example, that younger siblings are better talkers due to interaction with older ones.

    So, in regards to your concerns, if you want to form such groups, invite best behaving older kids to pair with a larger group of younger ones, do not invite the worse behaving older ones.

    #2048501
    mobico
    Participant

    As posted on a different thread as well, some relevant thoughts from R’ Mordechai Kuber, well-respected Rav in Telzstone:

    In Defense of the Undefended
    Follow-up

    On Erev Shabbos Parshas Vaeira, I posted an article about the Chaim Walder tragedy. Since then, I had the opportunity to engage in a number of discussions, including with a well respected Posek. Although I still stand by the basic principles of my original piece, it is important to clarify some points and further elaborate, based on that which I have learned since then:
    • I am not, and no Rav that I know is or ever has been, in favor of ignoring allegations of abuse. We all recognize the horrible, lifelong consequences of abuse and the need to act swiftly and resoundingly to protect victims from predators.
    • Despite these shared concerns and goals, we all must be aware that the Torah’s laws guide our every action. We may do, say, and believe that which the Torah permits, and we must refrain from that which the Torah prohibits. No end, as important and critical as it may be, justifies prohibited means.
    • Some of the technical issues that could stand in the way of the acceptance of an allegation of sexual abuse are the absence of the accused and the lack of witnesses.
    • Despite these issues, any allegation in a Beis Din of abuse will lead to Beis Din’s immediate demand that the accused maintain complete distance from the victim, which affords full protection for the future. If the accused violates this injunction, Beis Din will enforce it as necessary. Any implication from that which I originally posted to the contrary was unintentional.
    • If there are multiple allegations to the point that Beis Din suspects that the accused is guilty, even in the absence of witnesses, Beis Din will warn him to cease and desist from anything resembling inappropriate contact immediately. If he ignores this warning, Beis Din will banish him from the community with full force.
    • Today, in Eretz Yisrael, there are Batei Din that specialize in this field, which are fully proficient in the laws governing when the requirements for the presence of the accused and male and/or adult witnesses could be waived.
    • In general, one is not allowed to believe or pass along any negative information about another, even if it is in the newspaper.
    • In general, people expose themselves to needless amounts of unnecessary information about goings on through their ownership of certain devices and their subscription to various services. Blissful ignorance of the world around is infinitely preferable to a self-inflicted information barrage. I was very pleased to learn that most people without these devices and subscriptions were almost completely unaware of the CW tragedy, and very sad to learn that those who indulge were well informed of an astounding amount of harmful, sordid details.
    • Even when one is allowed to pass along negative information, it has to be for a constructive purpose. The most common constructive purpose is the protection of the one who will be hearing it, but there are other possibilities. There are many other conditions that have to be met regarding content and tone, and tests of altruism that must be passed. This is true even in cases of allegations of sexual abuse.
    • In a case of multiple reports of distinct sinning, the case has moved from the category of an alleged crime to that of one who has developed a reputation of sinning. Multiple reports are not equivalent to staggering evidence in support of the allegations. Nevertheless, developing such a reputation is a transgression in its own right, which allows Beis Din to punish the accused for it, and allows others to relate this information to the extent that it is purposeful.
    • In the CW case, the reports of sinning had reached this stage, allowing others to pass along these reports to the extent that it is purposeful to do so and that it is one’s intent. But it is not license for random slander. As always, one has to be very careful of his intentions. There is great harm to all concerned in relaying damaging information, even when permissible and even when necessary. Sometimes there is no choice, but it should be passed along with a heavy heart.
    • With CW’s passing, there is no longer any purpose in spreading these reports, even if there had been before. It has been explained to me by those with intimate knowledge of the Gedolim’s opinion that they desire that continued discussion of this topic should be brought to a halt immediately, because it is harmful to all concerned, especially to the young.
    • It is undeniable that CW left this world by taking his own life. Suicide is absolutely forbidden and it is equivalent to murder. Regardless of whatever he was going through, there is no justification for such a terrible act. This is a terrible, final legacy for him to have left his many present and potential future followers. Therefore, I was advised by a prominent Rav, in contradiction to my previous opinion, that there is no choice but to purge his books from the stores, from the libraries, and from our homes. It is certainly sad to have to give up one of the few truly valuable and appropriate series of contemporary books, but to hold on to them would only condone in some way this terrible crime. We cannot allow our children to think that suicide is ever acceptable, and that it is anything but murder. In addition, since the reports of other sinning had created their own reality of transgression, there is the risk of condoning that as well.
    • This tragedy should reinforce in us all the importance of avoiding situations of prohibited yichud. No one is immune, and it is asking for trouble.
    • It should also reinforce for us the dangers of inappropriate devices and social media. It exposes us to an overload of harmful images and information and enables widespread damage with a few thoughtless clicks. Yes, I mentioned this above but it is worth additional mention. Kosher phones are the best, by far. They prevent much grief and keep at a distance the sadness and unsavory details of the world at large.
    • Let us all pray for b’soros tovos.

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