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Investigation of Abuse at Melbourne Chabad School Points to Jailed Teacher

JTA

Police are investigating allegations of abuse by a former teacher at a Jewish boys’ school in Melbourne who is currently in a U.S. prison.

David Kramer fled Australia for the United States after accusations he had abused boys at Yeshivah College, a Chabad institution, between 1989 and 1993. Kramer, 50, was jailed in St. Louis in 2008 and sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing a 12-year-old boy at a local synagogue there.

Victoria Police may try to extradite Kramer when he is released, which could be as early as next year, according to a report Wednesday in The Age newspaper.

It is understood that Kramer, a Jewish studies teacher, was asked to leave the Orthodox school in Melbourne after teachers there became aware of the allegations. At the time, however, the allegations were never reported to authorities.

In an open letter to the community, Yeshivah College parent Menachem Vorchheimer said many were aware of the allegations “for an extended period of time.” “We have a duty to confront abuse in our community,” he wrote. “Ongoing silence is not an option.”

One Orthodox insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told JTA: “There’s no pressure any more to keep quiet. The Orthodox community has changed its attitude. The days of keeping it quiet are gone.”

Last year, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria passed a resolution affirming its “unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.” It stated that the prohibition on reporting crimes to authorities “does not apply in cases of abuse.”

Yeshivah College is “steeped in Chabad-Lubavitch ethos,” according to its website. Its main campus houses the headquarters of the Chabad movement in Melbourne.

37 Comments

  • 1. not right wrote:

    we hope so, and will demand accountability on these types of issues, those who were aware should but stood quiet should also be punished.

  • 2. blame game wrote:

    The abuse that this sicko perpetrated on other Jewish boys & the scars these boys will carry for life is only the fault of the Hanhala & everyone who covered it up.

    There are men in Crown Heights who allegedly did the same thing. Why are the people who KNOW letting the molesters get away to do it again?

    Can the people in Australia sleep at night?

  • 3. silence is not always golden!!!!!! wrote:

    silence has a hefty price. Kramer came from another Chabad Comminty in the US to Melbourne. Nobody expressed their suspicion. Kramer fled Melbourne everybody’s suspicion was hushed. He is no longer part of the community why make a tummel. And then he did it again…
    I hope all those that did not want to speak loshon horah find what to say to those abused.

  • 4. disgusted wrote:

    we had a similar story here in LAabout 8 or 9 years ago. how much more wil it take forour rabonim to end the silence?

  • 5. CL wrote:

    agree with # 1, 2 and 3 so far.

    these precious children are the MOST important of all we have. They are little sifrei Toirahs, we are obligated to care for them. If a person is sick in the guf then we give them medical treatment. This mental illness is like what yena machla is to the body, and these people need to be dealt with.
    we are capable people, we should not let this happen. HaShem YERACHEM.

  • 7. Wondering wrote:

    End the silence within the kehilla, get the perps treatment but keep it off the public domain. What would the Rebbe say about a post like this?

  • 9. Rebecca wrote:

    Forget the rabbis.
    One parent calling the authorities will put an end to it.

  • 10. mendel wrote:

    I would like to know if the so-called Rabbonim knew about this and let him continue to abuse.

    Its time that a rov was put behind bars as a warning to others not to cover up

    The family in US should sue the hanholah of Melbourne

  • 12. blame wrote:

    don’t blame the Rabbis
    blame the parents for not taking action!
    when it happened in Morristown .afaik,the abuser went to jail
    The rabbis are not going to do anything,it’s not their job, it is the parents job
    Rabbis are not going to put you on cherem if you report to police about these sick guys

  • 13. Saddned wrote:

    If only one of the many Rabbonim and members of the kehilla, who knew about a person who was victimizing others would have reported or dealt with him years ago instead of hushing everyone………it would have spared my abuse and suffering. :(

    Better yet…they still havn’t done anything about it.

  • 14. Milhouse wrote:

    #10, Velamalshinim al tehi sikvoh. And no, despite what you may read on some web sites, there is no blanket heter. Unless you know very specific details about a particular case, and have asked an expert posek for a heter, you may NOT inform the authorities, and anyone may kill you to prevent you doing so.

  • 16. #10 to millhouse wrote:

    Misguided millhouse, the only person who will kill a person for reported an abuser, is the abuser. Following that logic, your comment seems to betray you as an abuser…

  • 17. MILLHOUSE RIGHT! Just take revenge wrote:

    Millhouse is 100% correct! You don’t
    commit something as serous as mesirah.
    When it comes to molesters and other such
    vermin, just take a gun and blow their heads off,
    simple as all that! That will bring justice,and,for sure, prevent another victim.

  • 18. Teacher wrote:

    Hush. Available on Amazon. The best and most accurate book on the subject in the frum community.

  • 19. disgusted wrote:

    #7-don’t you dare drag the rebbe into this and assume what he’d say.these people need incarceration! treatment is almost never effective but they can get it in prison where there locked up away from kids!!!!
    #9-unfortunately we had a case here in s. california where the perp molested,amongst others, the rav’s son. the rav bdavka kept it quiet and threw the guy out of the community. of course he ended up doing the same thing in another s.cal community and that time he went to prison.

  • 20. Yoel wrote:

    As it says : Iym lo yagid venoso avono. A rabbi may discorage going to the police , however if it happens again it will be that rovs achrayus.

  • 22. A Malshin wrote:

    I have reported 2 instances of alleged abuse to Chabad national officers. One in CA and one in NYS. Both involve a shliach himself and/or immediate family.

    It was clear as day that neither report would produce even a minimal inquiry. In one of the cases the Shliach was in collusion with a corruopt judge who has subsequently been dismissed forever. (That this judge set side an order of protection and awarded custody to the offender, is amazing, but apparently not the worst of this judges misdeeds.) Both of these cases are a chilul hashem (under the auspices of Lubavitch) in waiting.

    This talk about Rabbonim being involved is absolute mystery to me. They are chosen for their “book-knowledge” and not their “smarts” nor their yiras shomayim. (Identical to the criteria for appointing a Litvishe Rosh Yeshivah.)

  • 23. A Matter of Perspective wrote:

    Remember that this happened between 1989-1993. The fact that he was kicked out of the country was a bigger step than most Jewish or other organizations would have done at that time. In retrospect, from the current societal perspective on the issue, more should have been done but we cannot judge. We probably would not have done much more. Mandatory reporting by schools was not in effect then so from a technical legal standpoint they had no obligation to report it.
    Nowadays there is no chance that something like this would get by at Yeshivah, a pity the same cannot be said about schools/shluchim here in the USA as evidenced by the recent cases mentioned previous comments.
    Let us be thankful that awareness is being heightened and that there is another breach in the collusion of silence that pervades our communities without any new victims.

  • 24. disgusted wrote:

    to #18-to clarify,he did it before he got here to LA as well but no one here knew ’till it was too late.now this animal has slipped off the radar and no one knows where he is.btw.this guy sat in jail 1 year.is that justice? shouldn’t a teacher,who’s position is special and privledge have an especially harsh sentece on top of that?

  • 25. abuse wrote:

    This is part of a statement that the Rabonim of Australia made.
    Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick
    Rabbi Zvi Telzner
    Of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria.

    “Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria resolve that:
    It affirms it’s unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.
    It affirms it’s halachik position that the prohibition of mesirah
    (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication
    in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse.”

  • 26. Melbourne boy wrote:

    I understand that police are looking at several cases of alleged sexual abuse at Yeshivah between 1989 and 1993

    Millhouse, I believe you were in Australia then, perhaps this explains why your view is different to Rabbi Telsner and the other Rabonim?

  • 27. No MoLesters wrote:

    There is no treatment for molestation other than mach’n a saris (with a knife or with Depo-Provera). Since the law in most places doesn’t allow us to make adjustments to anyone’s masculinity on our own, reporting is the only answer.

  • 28. a survivor of abuse wrote:

    If someone would’ve reported the sexual abuse that went on in ohelei torah about 20 yrs ago to authorities i would not have been abused for about half my life. if such a sickness isn’t reported it only makes the abuser feel like they have more power and will therefore commit the crime again.

  • 29. Sooooo Sorry :( wrote:

    My heart goes out to all the boys (and girls!), young and old, who have been abused….there are no words….be strong!

  • 31. Los Angeles wrote:

    For those of you misguided ones, who think that it was “dealt with” in LA: He sat in prison for a VERY short while, just until the higher up shluchim could get through the paperwork to get him released…they tried their best to get him out asap; it would’ve been sooner if not for all the red tape. Now he’s off in Eretz Yisroel, probably teaching, and probably still abusing children. Nuff said.

  • 32. Rebecca wrote:

    In the past the Rabbis taking action means they move the perp to another community or kick him out altogether where he can prey on non-jews.
    The victims in many cases depending on their personality and weaknesses go on to do the same thing, it is an infection that spreads.
    If he is innocent he will be found so by experienced authorities; but frum parents reporting someone like this in the first place it seems to me would do so only under dire straits.
    Therefore I don’t think any frum person would be put through the wringer and be found innocent.
    It’s not so much we want them punished; we want someone to help us stop it.
    When we have a cavity we don’t go to our rav to see if we should go to the dentist.
    I have a lot of ruchmanus on all sick people including these ones.
    It probably happened to them and no one believed or cared.

  • 33. person wrote:

    raskin in montreal was also left alone after he did sick things to kids

  • 34. I don-t understand wrote:

    I don’t understand why a rabbi who has torah knowledge would be exempt from dealing with issues of abuse. As far as I know, torah is not just an academic document, but it holds within it lessons in what behaviors and beliefs are appropriate to help us lead a life representative of the best of a Jewishly-led life. Why would a rabbi not be expected to deal with it. NOT do deal with it leads me to ponder possible reasons: they don’t care, they don’t know, they ignore, they are ignorant about the issue, they condone it, they participate in it, they are too ashamed to deal with it, they don’t know how to go about dealing with it effectively, they think they are above dealing with it, it is acceptable behavior in their minds and hearts, they haven’t given it any thought one way or the other, they think protecting the perpetrators is more important than protecting the children, they are oblivious, ….anything else?

  • 35. awacs wrote:

    “Unless you know very specific details about a particular case, and have asked an expert posek for a heter, you may NOT inform the authorities, and anyone may kill you to prevent you doing so.”

    While, intellectually, I want to agree with you, Milhouse, a molester is the equivalent of a person firing into a crowd with a gun. Several Rabbonim *have* given blanket heterim (one in the comments, above) to go to the police under these circumstances.

  • 36. aussie wrote:

    in australia since the mid-90s we have mandatory reporting. Doctors, health care professionals, teaching professionals and anyone else in a position of care MUST report any abuse (domestic, sexual etc.) to the Department of Child Services. If they do not report to them and abuse is made known to them, they are liable and held accountable and even JAILED.
    This case occurred way before then. THe melbourne community had not experienced such a thing before and the hanhalah didn’t realise the impact that these things have on people.
    sending him away was a big step. id on’t hitnk they realised that this is a sickness that continues on and on and on. there was very little awareness then. a few years later in the secular world it became much more reported on and mandatory reporting became law – so now with all the sick stories we hear from the churches, from secular world and from yiddishe velt – we are more aware and more disgusted by it. back then it was very little known.

  • 37. Milhouse wrote:

    #25, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria is a bunch of amhoratzim who have no business making such psokim.

    awacs, I know several “rabbonim” have given blanket heterim; I challenge their right to do so. They are playing with fire, and they will have no answer when they come Above, especially if someone is harmed because of their irresponsible game-playing with halacha. They are worse resho’im than the “abusers” they condemn; because they are falsifying the Torah to suit a passing political fad.

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