Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What does Trinity Christian Academy and a Brooklyn Yeshiva have in common?

A few things, it seems:

Article: Orthodox Jewish Community Struggles With Abuse Allegations.

The abuse was in the office:

When Joel Engelman was 8 years old, he says, he was called from his Hebrew class to the principal's office at his Brooklyn yeshiva, a Jewish religious school. His parents had recently told Rabbi Avrohom Reichman that their son had been abused by an older boy at the school, he says.

Joel Engelman, pictured as a child, and Tamir Weissberg said they were victims of sexual abuse by members of the Orthodox Jewish community. They said they were told not to discuss the alleged abuse. But he says the rabbi was not offering to help that day.

When Engelman arrived at the principal's office, he says, Reichman told him to close the door. He told the boy to sit on his lap and began swiveling his chair back and forth, Engelman says. Reichman then touched him, moving from his shoulders down, Engelman claims.

Leadership wanted the victims to remain silent:

But Engelman says the response from religious leaders has been just as disturbing as the alleged abuse. He claims the school's religious leaders told him not to go to the police, and promised to remove Reichman from the school, which they did for a few months.

"They kept telling me, 'Don't go to the police, don't do anything. We've dealt with this before,'" with other teachers, he said. "It really shocked me."

A few days after the statute of limitations for Engelman to file a civil or criminal case against Reichman for abuse passed, the school reinstated the rabbi, the lawsuit claims.

Friends and family get divided:

"My sister told me until I stop the slander, she can't be my sister," she said.

A detractor stigmatized the entire Orthodox Jewish community:

"If you're a pedophile, just go to one of the orthodox communities. You're probably safest there," said New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, himself an Orthodox Jew. "It's sad for me to say that, but it's true."

All these coincidences, and more, happened in the world of Trinity Baptist Church/Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida.

The sad thing is, the politicos who spoke at Trinity, and the council people currently members of Trinity, unlike Assemblyman Dov Kikind, are also keeping their mouths shut.

They'll talk about child abuse, as long as they're talking about 'the usual suspects'. Never themselves!

The surprising thing?

They're the ones people trust when it comes to 'family values'.

Go figure!

Well, they do know how keep secrets 'in the family', that's for sure.

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