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Maccabi Australia To Probe Abuse Scandal

Maccabi Australia will conduct an independent review of its handling of a child sex abuse scandal that resulted in a former basketball coach being jailed last month for eight years.

Shannon Francis was found guilty of several child sex abuse offenses between 1999 and 2000, including sexual penetration of a minor, while he was coaching a junior girls team for the largest Jewish organization in Australia with some 9,000 members across more than 50 clubs.

Maccabi officials have been under fire following allegations that at least one senior official had been warned about Francis at the time of the offenses.

Maccabi Australia’s board on Monday committed to an independent review, which will investigate events at the time of the offenses and also how Maccabi handled the scandal beginning when Francis was charged in 2011.

“The board’s commitment to an independent review was made on the back of listening to the victims who have expressed their concerns about the Maccabi organization’s internal processes and actions,” Maccabi President Lisa Borowick said in a statement.

“The board have approached respected members of the community who are independent of Maccabi to form the review panel,” she said.

It intends to produce its findings by November and issue a public statement afterwards.

Manny Waks, a spokesperson for the victims, welcomed the development.

“Due to the serious allegations by the victims and others regarding the mishandling of the case by senior Maccabi officials – both at the time of the abuse and more recently since Shannon Francis was charged – an independent, transparent and immediate review of the facts, as well as the provision of guidance on how to respond to similar cases in the future, is an appropriate response,” he said.

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