Jewish victims of child sex abuse have spoken out about serious sexual crime being perpetrated within the UK’s strictly Orthodox Jewish community, writes Jonathan Kalmus.
Two victims — who are not involved in the Dispatches film — have spoken exclusively to the JC.
Both from Greater Manchester, they explained why they have never spoken openly about abuse or reported the allegations to the police. They said rabbis in whom they confided provided mixed responses, including utter naivety about what to do.
But they also said that they feared the response of their own community and could not face the prosecution process or destroying a perpetrator’s family, whom they knew.
One woman claimed that her son was abused, together with other children, when he was just six. The children were encouraged, with sweets, to fondle a Charedi man by placing their hands in his underpants. But the allegations only came to light more than five years later.
“My husband was absolutely horrified. My first thought was to call the police. My husband said no, because the man has a family and little children and it would hurt them badly.
“I would have preferred to have had him openly charged, to protect other people... But I am very familiar with [the alleged perpetrator’s] wife. I knew her, I knew her kids. I didn’t feel I could do it.”
A man from Salford alleges he suffered repeated attempted rape when he was 15, by a Charedi businessman who tied him up with a chasidic prayer belt, a gartel, while plying him with alcohol, marijuana and food. Attacks took place over many months, it is claimed.
“He would scream at me and squeeze my testicles until I was black and blue to punish me, if I confronted him.
“I never told my parents. I’d confided in a few friends. They believed me, but didn’t know what to do”.
Eventually the boy turned to a rabbi.
“He told me I should go to the Child Protection Team straight away. He said, they will put you in contact with the police. He also got me a psychologist in London.
“I felt relieved, that I had done the right thing”.
But after a number of meetings with police, the boy became scared. “I was nervous. There were stories in the papers about a boy who was raped. I thought I would be just another one of these kids in the newspaper”.