A child sex abuse scandal in Australia’s Jewish community has spilled into America, as a pending extradition, arrests in Australia and a slew of cover-up allegations put that community’s response to molestation under scrutiny.
Australian police are seeking to extradite convicted child molester David Kramer, currently in jail in Farmington, Mo., on suspicion of having abused children at a Chabad school in Melbourne during the 1990s.
Kramer, who was reportedly spirited out of Australia by one of Melbourne’s Chabad leaders following abuse allegations, is halfway through a seven-year prison sentence for sodomizing a 12-year-old boy in St. Louis.
According to members of the Australian community, he is not the only molester to end up in the United States after Australian community leaders failed to report them to legal authorities. Other molesters fled the country more recently as suspicion of abuse fell on them, community members say.
The Forward has learned that at least two suspected molesters from the Australian Jewish community are living in the United States while they are under investigation in Australia.
Meanwhile, Manny Waks, a former vice president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, accused an Australian living in New York of molesting him when he was a boy.
Waks, 35, who has been the catalyst for revelations about the Melbourne abuse scandal, told the Forward he was molested by Velvel Serebryanski, son of a prominent Chabad rabbi, at two Melbourne synagogues during the late 1980s.
Listen to Paul Berger’s interview with Manny Waks about his personal experience of being abused:
Serebryanski, who goes by the name Zev Sero in New York, did not deny the allegations when a Forward reporter asked him about them at his Brooklyn home.
Serebryanski, 47, declined to speak on the record about the allegations. His father, Rabbi Aaron Serebryanski, is one of Chabad’s principal emissaries to Australia.
Waks claims that Serebryanski molested him on several occasions, including when he went to lie down during an all-night Shavuot study session in a synagogue at Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre, a Chabad institution.
Waks said Serebryanski began to molest him in the synagogue and then said: “This isn’t for a place of worship. Let’s go outside.”
According to Waks, who was about 12 at the time, Serebryanski then led him into a nearby restroom.
The charges are contained in a police report that Waks filed in 1996.
In that same report, Waks details how he was also abused by David Cyprys, a Melbourne karate instructor.
Cyprys is about to stand trial in Australia on dozens of sex charges related to the abuse of 11 boys.
During a magistrates court hearing in Melbourne last year, Detective Senior Constable Lisa Metcher “accused members of the Yeshivah community of lying to police and trying to cover up sex abuse claims,” according to The Age, an Australian newspaper.
”They failed to act in any way to protect children,” the newspaper stated that Metcher told the court.
Waks went public last year with accusations that he was repeatedly molested while attending the Yeshivah Centre’s boys school, Yeshivah College.
His call for other victims to come forward shattered decades of denial. Press reports related how Victoria state police were inundated with testimony from young men who said they were abused.