One of Australia’s most senior Orthodox rabbis has issued an unequivocal apology to the victims of child sex abuse and urged perpetrators to turn themselves in to police.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, said the “culture of cover-up” is wrong.
“An issue of child sexual abuse must be reported to the police immediately and perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he wrote in a letter issued to all Orthodox shuls in the region, intended to be read during Yom Kippur services.
“It makes no difference whether the crime took place 10 years ago or 10 days ago,” Rabbi Gutnick’s letter read.
He then begged forgiveness from the victims. “On this holiest of days I sincerely beg your forgiveness on behalf of all of us… We will do our utmost not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
To the perpetrators, he added: “Admit to the wrong you have done so that you may begin the path to atonement and allow your victims to find peace.”
Manny Waks, a spokesperson for Jewish victims, said: “This may very well be a world first and I am proud that an Australian rabbi… has demonstrated such courageous leadership.” Two perpetrators are in jail and several other cases are before the courts.