The announcement by Australia’s Prime Minister of a royal commission into the “vile and evil” scourge of child sex abuse has reignited the controversial issue inside the Jewish community.
Julia Gillard announced Monday that the inquiry would include children under the care of all religious organizations and that it would focus on the response of the institutions to the alleged sex abuse cases.
Yeshivah College, an Orthodox school run by Chabad in Melbourne, has recently been at the center of controversy since allegations broke last year that students had been victims of sexual abuse.
Its principal, Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, issued a statement Wednesday saying: “Child abuse is abhorrent and has a traumatic consequences for victims and their families. Victims of abuse deserve support and closure and a royal commission is a very positive and welcome step.”
Manny Waks, a spokesperson for alleged victims who claims he was abused as a student at Yeshivah College, said: “I’m receiving more and more allegations of child sexual abuse coming from the Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Jewish communities. Some are alleged to have occurred years ago while others as recent as the past few years.”
One alleged perpetrator, David Cyprys, is standing trial next year on numerous counts of child sex abuse against former students of Yeshivah College from the 1980s. Another alleged perpetrator, David Kramer, is awaiting extradition from America to Australia, where he is wanted by police who are investigating allegations he also committed child sex abuse while he taught at Yeshivah College between 1989 and 1993.
Malka Leifer, a former principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, fled the country for Israel in 2008 amid allegations she sexually abused female students.