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In his talk, Schachter recounted how decades ago he decided not to tell law enforcement authorities about abuse allegations brought to him by a student at Y.U.’s high school. He said he decided not to do so when the student, citing deep embarrassment, declined to see a school psychologist
Schachter went on to suggest that the student was responsible for any further students who may have been harmed by his alleged abuser, because he would not see the psychologist.
“So now, 40 years later, the guy’s spilling everything out to the newspaper,” Schachter said.
Schachter also cautioned against reporting abuse to the authorities without first seeking advice from a Torah scholar, because, he said, police and social service workers often “don’t handle the situation properly.”
After citing anecdotes of alleged wrongful accusations against men in Israel and in America, Schachter said, “Before you go to the police and before you go to family services, every community should have a board… to investigate whether there’s [reasonable suspicion of abuse] or not.”
Erin Duggan, chief spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, said her office “strongly encourages” adults, whether or not they are mandated by law to report abuse, “to report any suspicions of child abuse to law enforcement.”
“Law enforcement personnel who specialize in investigating crimes against children have unique training to evaluate a report of abuse and to determine if a further investigation is appropriate,” Duggan said.
Schachter’s statements have caused uproar before. In 2004 the rabbi invoked a common talmudic idiom about monkeys to explain why any Jew, even a woman, may publicly read out a Jewish marriage contract, or ketubah, as part of a wedding ceremony. In 2008 he was forced to cut short a trip to Israel and to issue an apology for suggesting that the Israeli prime minister should be shot if he ceded control of Jerusalem.