For some reason, clergy sexual abuse is mostly associated with priests. But the reality on the ground is that sexual abuse knows no religious bounds. Many rabbis in various Jewish communities have been accused of sexual abuse of children, young men, and women. However, there’s a reason incidents of sexual abuse by rabbis and religious teachers are not heard by the public. Hasidic Jews, commonly known as the ultra-Orthodox, are the most insulated. They react poorly to sexual abuse victims reporting to anyone outside their community.
Rabbis and religious school leaders are held in particularly high esteem and children are usually entrusted in their care. When rabbis betray that trust by sexually abusing those he is supposed to lead and teach, the consequential damage can be staggering. Allegations can result in the victim and their family being shunned by the community when they make official police reports. Due to their influence and position, nothing could be more taboo than speaking out about abuse and bringing charges against a rabbi.
Fortunately, significant attention has been drawn to the issue of sexual abuse in Jewish communities. In some cases, yeshivas and synagogues allowed rabbis who had a history of sexual abuse allegations to continue working with children and youth. For this reason, victims and their families cannot rely on the synagogue or yeshivas for help.
If your religious organization denied your allegations or turned you away after promising to help, you can turn to the compassionate sexual abuse lawyers at Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm. We have handled numerous cases against synagogues and yeshivas by filing lawsuits against them for the negligent hiring, supervision, and retention that led to the sexual abuse of women, children, and teenagers under their care. Whether the abuse happened days ago or years ago, we will listen to your story and aggressively fight for your rights. Contact us today at 310-359-9451 for a free, initial consultation with one of our California sexual abuse attorneys.
Cases of Rabbi Sexual Abuse Are Underreported
Some ultra-Orthodox Jews prefer to keep quiet about sexual abuse allegations to protect the reputation of the family of the accused and the community at large. And with zeal to maintain control, rabbinical authorities worry that engaging outside authorities could erode their power. They’re more afraid of the non-Jews than the deviants within their own community. To them, deviants pose a threat to a few people, but the outside world threatens the entire structure of their community.
The rates of sexual abuse by rabbis are roughly the same as those in other religions. But for generations, most Jewish abuse victims have chosen to keep silent out of fear of stigmatization in a culture where discussion of sex is taboo and the genders are strictly separated. When a victim comes forward, rabbinical courts will handle the case, pledge to monitor the accused, or settle the case with payment to a victim. What happens when a rabbi has taken advantage of your child? They will undoubtedly try to keep the allegations a secret without referring the matter to the police. They will protect the rabbi and even allow him to continue working with children and young men. According to ultra-Orthodox Jews, you can destroy a person’s life with false claims, which is why observant Jews are prohibited from reporting sexual abuse cases to the police unless permitted to do so by a rabbi.
Individuals who speak out about their abuse and cooperate with the police often encounter intimidation from other members of the insular Hasidic communities and rabbinical authorities. These intimidations are aimed at pressuring the victims to drop their cases. In fact, it’s not uncommon for victims of rabbi sexual abuse and their families to be expelled from synagogues and religious schools. They are shunned by fellow Jews and targeted for harassment meant to destroy their reputation and businesses. In some cases, families of the victims are offered money to help pay for therapy and stop pursuing charges.
On an international level, this issue is devastating. Sometime back, a chief rabbi lectured a group on the prevalence of child abuse in Jewish society. Over a 2-year period, the number of sexual abuse victims who opened up about their abuse was in hundreds of thousands. Though not all the abusers were clerics, rabbis were discouraging the abused persons from making official reports. If you or your loved one has been sexually abused by a rabbi, don’t suffer in silence – let our attorneys give you a voice and help save others from being victimized by your abuser.
Lawsuits in the Media Regarding Clergy Sex Abuse in the Jewish Faith
Former Los Angeles Rabbi Menachem Weiss was sentenced to 6 years in prison for two counts of aggravated sexual assault on a boy in 1999. At the time of his arrest, he had been working as an associate rabbi and director of the Israel Center at Milken Community Schools in Pico-Robertson.
In December 2019, a Connecticut rabbi Daniel Greer was sentenced to 12 years in prison for repeatedly abusing a teenage boy more than a decade ago. The rabbi founded Yeshiva of New Haven had sexually abused Eliyahu Mirlis in his bedroom, on school property, and at motels in different locations. Mirlis was awarded $15 million in a civil lawsuit.
In January 2019, a Minnesota rabbi Aryeh Cohen was sentenced to 3-year probation for online solicitation of a child for sex and describing sexual conduct to a child. He was arrested in a child sex sting operation and is currently a registered sex offender.
What Rabbi Sexual Abuse Entails
Were you sexually assaulted by a rabbi or a religious teacher? How do you identify what sexual abuse by a rabbi entails? Generally, sexual abuse involves non-consensual sexual activity. It happens when the abuser uses force or threat on the victim, or the victim is not able to give consent because of their age or impairment. A child cannot agree to engage in any sexual activity with an adult. In the case of rabbi sexual abuse, there’s an imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim, so there cannot be consent.
Sexual abuse by rabbi may include the following:
Forcefully undressing the minor
Exposing one to pornography and sexually charged language
Inappropriate touching or fondling of the body, including private parts
Sexually threatening or intimidation comments
Requesting or taking inappropriate photos of a child, woman, or young man for distribution or personal use
Inappropriate emails, texting, or communication from rabbi or teachers of the religious school
Physical assault and rape
Harassment, including discrimination for sexual preference or orientation
The Effects of Rabbi Sexual Abuse
Everyone copes with sexual abuse in different ways and every case is unique. Nonetheless, there are some general inclinations in how survivors of such heinous acts view themselves, deal with their surroundings, deal with personal relationships, and struggle with both mental and psychological health as a result of the assault.
The mental and psychological effects that sexual abuse victims experience stem in large part brain’s biological response to trauma. Some of the reverberating effects of sexual abuse by a rabbi include post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a condition involving symptoms of extreme anxiety, fear, stress, and difficulty with daily duties following a traumatic experience such as sexual abuse. Some survivors choose to take part in self-mutilation and substance abuse or attempted suicide. Also, it’s common for victims of sexual abuse to face dissociation as they struggle to put up with the trauma. Sexual abuse victims also experience significant behavioral changes, stained relations with family, social isolation, and risk-taking behavior. In addition to emotional and mental health, many survivors are at greater risk of physical health conditions, such as prolonged patterns of poor sleep, eating disorders, chronic pain, and high blood pressure.
While sexual abuse will have similar effects on both adults and children, people who were sexually abused as children may develop more emotional and psychological problems as they grow up. Some of the most common long-lasting symptoms for minors of sexual abuse include stress, depression, and anxiety. Survivors abused as children usually experience difficulty expressing their abuse and in turn experience extreme distortions and low self- esteem in their sense of self-worth in their adult life. This is why many victims develop feelings of insignificance, shun relationships with others, and put up with persistent feelings of shame, severe guilt, and self-blame that, if not addressed, may result in self-destructive behavior. More often, abused children feel liable for their assault particularly when the predator is a trusted adult such as a rabbi or a teacher.
In the short term, the victim may display developmentally inapt sexualization, feelings of powerlessness, poor performance in school, anger, and withdrawal. In the long term, most survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience life-long difficulty building healthy personal relationships. Issues with trust, intimacy, and sexual functioning are puffed up especially when sexual abuse is committed by a person the child adored, trusted, and relied on for their safety. Furthermore, survivors of childhood sexual abuse are susceptible to re-victimization compared to non-victims.
Take Legal Action Now
Rabbis and religious teachers who sexually abuse people they should be leading must be held accountable. Likewise, synagogues and yeshivas that fail to protect those in their care must be held accountable for any misconduct that happens on their watch. Hiring the right lawyer helps boost your chances of success. A lawyer will understand the laws that apply to sexual abuse cases and how to use them to your advantage.
When you choose Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm, we can take care of all aspects of your case while you focus on your future. We stand ready to help you build a strong case against your offender. We will treat you with the utmost respect and dignity, and if you want to keep your identity confidential throughout the case, we can do that. Our experienced and dedicated sexual assault attorneys have vast experience taking on sex predators who take advantage of innocent individuals. We’ve effectively worn substantial settlements for our clients and we’re prepared to advocate for your rights. We will work for you and go up against the negligent or criminal parties.
To help with your case, our rabbi sexual abuse lawyers will:
Identify the defendant
Develop a strong rabbi sexual abuse case
Help you meet the burden of proof
File all necessary paperwork
Subpoena witnesses and hire experts
Evidence in Cases of Rabbi Sexual Abuse or Assault
Most sexual abuse victims don’t expose their perpetrators since it all seems to be an issue of “my word against their word” and the abuser is in a position of authority. Rabbis just like many other clergies use their influence to cover up sex crimes. Many children and adults have been maltreated by the most powerful figures in religion. Nevertheless, a growing number of survivors of sexual abuse have triumphed against their predators in both civil and criminal courts. Sexual abuse attorneys and prosecutors are learning more regarding the type of proof that can be utilized to win a case.
To avoid liability for their atrocious actions, sexual perpetrators employ the following four common defenses. For each defense, there’s a strategy a California sexual abuse attorney can use to win the case.
Identity (It wasn’t me): Your attorney can use anything to identify the suspect including DNA samples, fingerprints, or other physical evidence. The suspect’s DNA could be on the victim’s clothing or property or the victim’s DNA could be on the suspect’s clothing. Other pieces of evidence from the crime scene, such as matching fibers or fingerprints may be used. Also, witness statements, audio or video recordings, or photos can go a long way in proving the identity of the perpetrator.
Denial (I did not do it): Evidence could be used to establish sexual contact and counter the denial argument. This may include items of clothing with DNA, witness testimony, medical records, photos, and audio, or video recordings.
Consent (He or she wanted or initiated sexual contact): There may be proof that the predator used coercion, threats, or force like audio or video recordings, witness testimony, text or email exchanges, or medical evidence like lacerations or bruises. Furthermore, if the plaintiff was under the age of consent or incapable to consent because of impairment or unconsciousness evidence showing that can be useful.
Impeachment by Contradiction. This involves the witnesses or suspects changing their story or adding more details later. For instance, the plaintiff in a Rabbi sexual abuse case may remember something that they had blocked as a result of shock or trauma. However, in a police interview or deposition, the suspect may say something different contradicting what he or she said in the beginning. Revelations of this nature can help build a strong case for the plaintiff while at the same time deconstructing the suspect’s case.
Other types of evidence that can be used in Rabbi sexual abuse cases include:
Testimony of someone who was abused by the same perpetrator
Testimony of someone who witnessed the abuse or events that led to or followed it
Medical records that detail emotional or physical trauma from the time the abuse took place
Any physical evidence that may still contain a sample of DNA
Testimony by an individual to whom the abuser confessed
Witness testimony of individuals who recognized changes in behavior, anxiety, phobias, withdrawal, depression, and more
Any form of proof that substantiates the plaintiff’s claims, for example, memories of a particular location, vehicle, or room that is unique to the incident
Who Can Be Sued in a Rabbi sexual Abuse Case?
Though the person who committed the abuse is with no doubt is the defendant in a civil case, the offender is not the only party who may be brought to book. Most of the rabbi sexual abuse cases that have taken over the news in the past few years involve rabbis who were appointed by, or under the strict supervision of institutions. Even though a civil lawsuit suit against this party is possible, chances that the perpetrator may have enough funds to compensate a victim are low. For this reason, victims of rabbi sexual abuse can sue the entire religious institution that should have reasonably protected against such heinous acts. If the institution contributed to or condoned the sexual abuse in one way or another, it could be partially or fully accountable for the atrocious act.
Religious institutions have a duty to exercise due diligence in their hiring procedures, to supervise volunteers, employees, staff, and all religious leaders, and to take timely corrective action to respond to and report claims of sexual abuse. If you were sexually abused by a rabbi, there may be evidence that the synagogue or yeshiva:
Failed to exercise due diligence or background checks before hiring the perpetrator
Covered up known sexual abuse cases
Failed to properly supervise
Failed to warn or take corrective action in addressing the dangers of the perpetrator
Failed to conduct proper investigations into accusations of sexual abuse by the rabbi
Should have known about the sexual abuse of women, minors, students, or staff by a rabbi
Our legal team will evaluate the details of your case for any signs of negligence from one or more parties involved in your case. We will then file a civil lawsuit against the defendant(s) demanding maximum compensation for damages.
Possible Compensation in Rabbi Sexual Abuse Cases
As aforementioned, rabbi sexual abuse can have a significant, lifetime, and damaging effect on the lives of the victims. Often, the b compensation awarded to victims of rabbi sexual abuse is informed by the specific of their case. Many cases will end up in settlements that are envisioned to take care of all the past, present, and future expenses the plaintiff has to put up with as a result of the abuse. In the event that the rabbi sexual abuse ends up in trial, you can be sure that the compensatory damages a jury can award could take care of specific economic and non-economic damages.
Victims of rabbi sexual abuse can file civil lawsuits with the court of law to obtain monetary compensation for mental anguish, physical pain, lost wages, suffering, psychiatric and medical expense, and in some cases, punitive damages.
When to Bring a Claim for Sexual Abuse by a Rabbi in California
Sexual abuse survivors in California must obey the state’s statute of limitations of civil claims. The limitations dictate how long a sexual abuse plaintiff has to file a claim after abuse or else lose their right to be heard in court. In 2019, California’s statute of limitations was extended for certain sexual crimes. If the incident occurred before January 1, 2019, and you were over 18 years at the time, you have 2 years from the date of the attack to file a civil claim in California. For sexual abuse that occurred after January 2019, you have to file a claim within 10 years from the date of the abuse and within 3 years from the discovery of an illness or disease related to the attack.
Victims of childhood sexual abuse have until their 40th birthday or within 5 years of discovery to file a claim for civil damages. The law also allows a 3-year window for setting aside time deadlines on child sex abuse cases. It’s important to take quick legal action to protect your rights and fight for justice.
Find a Rabbi Sexual Abuse Attorney Near Me
While clergy sexual abuse can be devastating for both children and adults, seeking counseling and treatment can be an effective tool for moving past the trauma. The opportunity to speak out about abuse and file a civil lawsuit can provide an opportunity for compensation and healing. If you or a loved one has been sexually exploited by a rabbi, we understand that you may be concerned about opening up and revealing the details. Our attorneys at Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm have handled all types of sexual abuse cases for decades and are well aware of the sensitive nature of these claims. Our experienced California sexual abuse lawyers are compassionate and understanding. We are prepared to answer your questions about legal remedies and pursue justice in a court of law.