Melbourne attorney Alex Lewenberg has been banned from practice for 15 months for rebuking a victim of child sexual abuse who cooperated with police on the basis that “Jewish people should not assist police investigating another Jewish person.”
Lewenberg made the comments twice in 2011 while representing now-convicted child sex abuser David Cyprys, who is currently serving a prison sentence after being found guilty of raping one boy and molesting eight others when employed at the Melbourne Yeshivah Centre and College.
He made the comment once while in court for a bail hearing and once in a telephone conversation with an abuse victim that was secretly recorded.
The judgment delivered by Judge Pamela Jenkins at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal contained the contents of a written apology from Lewenberg to the victim known only as AVB, in which Lewenberg wrote: “I apologize to you for what I said and I deeply regret the real hurt and harm those words have caused you.”
In imposing the ban on practicing law, Jenkins noted that it was the fifth time Lewenberg had faced disciplinary action. She also ordered Lewenberg to complete legal education course in ethics and professional responsibility.
In her judgment, Jenkins said that Lewenberg had spoken to the victim’s foster parent “expressing his disappointment” in the victim’s conduct.
She said that the apology made by Lewenberg “fell short of any expression of genuine remorse.”
Lewenberg was ordered to pay court costs of more than $55,000 to the Legal Services Commissioner who prosecuted the case.
The ban becomes effective on June 1.