Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, 59, Sentenced 32 Years For Sexually Abusing Teen


BOROUGH PARK, N.Y. (WPIX) - Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, 59, the wealthy owner of a travel agency in Borough Park, Brooklyn, was hit Monday with a lengthy prison term for sexually abusing a then-16-year-old boy from his neighborhood.

Lebovits, a father of seven children and grandfather to 24, had long been the subject of talk in his community, but no action was ever taken against him, until three alleged victims came forward a couple of years ago.

Judge Patricia DiMango, of Brooklyn Supreme Court, sentenced Lebovits to a maximum term of 10 2/3 to 32 years. The victim in this first case told the jury that Lebovits performed oral sex on him in the rabbi's silver Toyota, on eight occasions between May 2004 and February 2005. The victim, now 22, testified he turned to drugs and alcohol after the abuse. The defense attorney, Arthur Aidala, argued the allegations were made up, as part of an extortion attempt, because Lebovits' son is a multi-millionaire.

In a surprise courtroom revelation, the judge read portions of Lebovits' probation report, where the rabbi confided to authorities that he himself was a victim of sexual abuse, when he was a boy. Lebovits said he was victimized the first time by an uncle in London, when he was just 11-years-old. He said a teenager abused him again, a year later, when he was 12.

Lebovits' victim, who admitted he stole money from poor boxes in the synagogue to feed his drug habit, read a statement to the judge before sentencing.

"Some people are telling me I'll regret going to the police. I feel every day Baruch Lebovits is in jail is a day kids in our community are safe," he said.

The victim's father then read his own statement to Judge DiMango, swaying back and forth at the table like he was saying daily prayers in his Orthodox Jewish faith:

"I ask you Mordechai Lebovits--where is your soul? You destroyed these children," said the victim's father,

Later, outside of court, the man revealed to PIX 11 News how community members from the synagogue lashed out against the family after they went public with the abuse complaints.

"Somebody almost kicked me .. they threw me out of the synagogue," he said.

Defense attorney, Arthur Aidala, took note that Lebovits worked for many years as a kindergarten teacher in Brooklyn and there was never one word of complaint from parents. He pointed to more than 100 letters of support for the rabbi, written by his family and other community members.

"In my religion, you would call the life Baruch Lebovits lived a saint -- this is a non-violent crime. Keep in mind, this is his first contact with the system," said Aidala.

But Judge DiMango was not swayed, although she noted, "Sex abuse often leads to sex abuse." Before imposing the maximum sentence, she said, "Abusing and harming children will not be tolerated."

A group of young men who say they are survivors of sexual abuse by teachers and counselors turned up in court to support the victim.

The defense plans to appeal the harsh sentence, claiming Lebovits is being punished, because he turned down a "plea bargain" offer before trial that would have carried a 1 1/3 to 4 year maximum penalty. Now the rabbi is looking at 32 years. 


Speech By Father of Lebovits Victim to Sentencing Judge

by Yerachmiel Lopin on 04/12/2010
Below is the prepared text that the father of the victim shared with me yesterday and delivered to the judge in Brooklyn a few minutes ago. I will announce sentencing as soon it happens. The text has has been edited to remove names and other identifying information.
I would like to thank the judge, The Honorable Patricia M. Di Mango, for giving me the opportunity to speak at the sentencing of Baruch Mordechai Lebovits.
King David wrote: ”I thank G-d with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright” (Psalms 111:1). There is no more righteous place than where justice is done and executed. The prophet Isaiah said, “Zion should be redeemed through justice. I would like to thank the Honorable Justice Di Mango for conducting the trial with truth and dignity. I have to admit that I had my doubts about the outcome, but I know that if you have truth on your side justice will prevail. As Shakespeare said:  “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is”.
I want to thank Ms. Gregory and her staff and the DA’s office for endless hard work and sleepless nights to bring this case to trial regardless of the dark clouds, She directed those clouds at Mr. Lebovits so the sun should shine again on my son. It is said that in every dark place there is a spark of light that is called hope.
I thank Detective Steve for his tireless work and the fact the he was always available to us 24/7. I also want to thank Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg and the father of another victim. Without you I would not be here today. You were like Pinchus in the Bible.
I want to thank my wonderful parents and family who stood fast in the biggest crises facing them in and out of the community for giving our son emotional support, a hug, a laughter and sometimes, a tear. You kids are all standing tall as victory marches on and history was made.
It is said that you leave the best for the last. And so my beloved son, my heart is always with you. We are one soul in two bodies bonded forever. I am very proud of you as are all your friends, family and all those who took part in this case. You had the courage to bring to the authorities that evil man, who is a rabbi and a prominent businessman with many connections to top leaders in the community. You refused to be bribed to drop the case. You were subjected to mud slinging and character assassination in front of the entire community as you testified in the witness chair. But you persevered because you had one thing on your side and that is the truth.
The holy book The Zohar states that “Truth stands on its own feet and lies do not stand.” And so the jury gave it’s verdict siding with the truth.
My son, with your courage to come forward you made history, helping to put away this evil man.  You made the community safer for other children. Martin Luther King JR said “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.”
I want to look this evil a man in his eyes. What this man did is not some tale or script in a horror movie. It is a real horror story of a man who lived in our community, was trusted by the children and the people. He went on to ruin so many innocent lives just to serve his own selfish sick pleasures. I ask you Mordechai Lebovits, where is your soul? After you had your sick fun you discarded these innocent children like trash. You wished to see them completely destroyed so they would not be able to testify against you. You never showed or had any remorse. You tried to destroy our son and his testimony by bringing in a rabbi, Berrel Ashkenazi, who himself is a alleged child molester, to testify on your behalf. But you just dug a deeper hole for yourself. As King David wrote “He who dug a pit has fallen into the ditch which he made. (Psalms 7:16).
But you cannot escape from the hands of G-D. Our son pulled himself out of the pit that you dug for him. He will go on with his life and G-D will give him strength and success while you will rot in a pit. .
Now, let me turn my attention and address the Lebovits family, friends and the so-called rabbis. You are not innocent either. You share the same guilt that Mordechai Lebovits does. You are just as guilty as he is because you all knew who he was, what he was doing and how he was destroying so many innocent children for years. You all came to support him while smirking and laughing at our son as he bravely testified. Our great Sages said that the one who sees someone committing evil and is silent is just as guilty as the evil perpetrator and gets the same punishment from G-D as the evildoer. There were rabbis who called me form Israel and ask me not to persecute him and just let him off the hook for his family’s sake. I told them that there is nothing in the Bible or the Talmud that tells us that justice should not be served for the sake of the family of the criminal. I ask those who pleaded mercy for this man” Did Mordechai Lebovits ever have mercy on the children he molested? Did he ever ask for their forgiveness for ruining their lives?
I would like to give you a summary of a quote from the Chief Rabbi Strenbuch of the Ultra Orthodox Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem (II:627). “It is not only allowed to bring the criminal to the authorities but it is a command to hand over such a person to the authorities. By handing him to the authorities you will eliminate desecration of G-D. There is no greater desecration of G-D than allowing a criminal like this to escape justice.”
I have a message for all those children molested by this or any other evil man and to their families.  It took a long time for this man to be brought to justice, but as a Russian poet once wrote “Justice is like a train that always arrives late”. It is better late than never. Don’t be afraid to bring a perpetrator to justice.
In conclusion, I would like to ask the Honorable Justice Patricia M. Di Mango to impose the maximum sentence for the crimes committed by Mordechai Lebovits as he inflicted maximum suffering on his innocent victims with no remorse.
Thank you very much Justice Di Mango. May G-D bless you and G-D bless America!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reproduction of Judaism - Chometz Everywhere - Rabbinic Donkeys And The Sewage Sludge Creation..

A reader writes,

An issue that I believe has not received enough attention is the, it seems sometimes daily, bombardment of news concerning people in positions of rabbinical and halachic authority being shown to be frauds or worse. These types of behavior by the people we are taught in the frum world to emulate causes me and I'm sure many others to be turned off from Judaism. Even if such incidents do not cause us to stop practicing, they leave us all with a bad taste in our mouths. What I find most disturbing is the comparative silence of the powers that be including the Agudah, and the rabbis that are considered to be leaders in our community.

When a politician is exposed as a charlatan or a pervert, his associates will do their utmost to disassociate themselves from the scandal for they do not want to be thought of as condoning illicit behavior. They do not want their names and the values they supposedly represent and fight for tarnished by the inappropriate actions of a fellow politician, especially when it concerns abuse of a position of power, using it to take advantage of others who may be defenseless or in need of legitimate services provided by the dirty politician.

How much more so should the very people who are supposed to be examples for the rest of klal yisroel decry pervasive behavior when it is found among their own. Our religion is one that has been passed down from father to son and from rabbi to student, a mesorah. However, if some of the very people handing over the mesorah, or charged with ensuring the strict compliance of halachic standards (i.e. geirus) are found to be frauds or perverts, abusing their positions of authority for personal pleasure, they should be denounced in public. The message should be clear: that these people are not representative or representatives of our religion.

Furthermore, silence and outright cover-ups, only emboldens the perpetrators, the ones who haven't been caught, to continue with their disgusting, hurtful behavior. When a victim of sexual abuse does not hear the supposed champions of Torah condemning the actions of an abuser, they are left with a feeling of abandonment, desolation. The community they grew up in does not care about the suffering they endured. And what does it say about us as a community when one of the supposed strictest authorities on orthodox conversion is found to have been soliciting potential converts for sexual favors and there is not even a word of protest to be heard, not a peep. If a rabbi is approving converts based on the extent of sexual favors proffered, shouldn’t all conversions overseen by this individual come into question?

Are we prudes? Is it inappropriate for us to discuss these matters in public? Where is the shame? Why are these people not being denounced? Why the silence? I feel let down? It makes me resentful of the people who are supposed to be the shining examples for the rest of us. I'm sure that I'm not alone.


A father's advice to the Holy Father

Q:A senior Vatican priest last week compared outrage at Pope Benedict's handling of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to the persecution of the Jews. Church leaders disavowed the comments, but went on to complain about a "vile," anti-Vatican media campaign aimed at weakening the papacy and its authority. Is the news media being fair to the pope? Is the media biased against the Catholic Church or its hierarchy? How would you advise the pope?
I am a father. I have been a new father six times. I have said often --and I am not the least bit proud of my capacity to house this feeling-- that if anyone were to seriously harm one of my children, I could drive hundreds of miles days later, with all the time in the world to have cooled down, and kill the bastard with my own hands. Were this situation to occur, heaven forfend, would I actually behave as I have described? I pray I will never know, but if you value your life you don't want to test me.
I am the same man, the same father, you ask now if the news media is being fair to the pope in the sexual abuse scandal that currently rocks his church. No need to repeat the offenses, we all know them well and they are horrific. I do think the press is bending over backwards to be fair, and in return I ask this question:
Must I be a part of a "vile anti-Vatican campaign aimed at weakening the papacy..." when I answer that way? Until the pope opens up to us --what did the church know, when did the church first learn of it , and how was that information processed?-- I think the world press, on behalf of the world's families, owes it to us to stay circumspectly but diligently on the case. How would I advise the pope? Open up to us, Father.


It can happen in your congregation, too.
The crisis in the Roman Catholic Church is a stark reminder that people we love and admire may turn out to be sex offenders, capable of causing irreparable damage to young lives. Various studies indicate that a not-insignificant minority of adults (perhaps 3 to 20%) may experience some sexual arousal toward children or teenagers. Most do not act on their attractions, but some do -- and they could well be some of the "nicest" people you know.
Despite the media myth that children are abused by strangers, in 90% of child sexual abuse cases, children know their abusers well. They are family members, teachers, scout leaders, athletic coaches, neighbors, babysitters and, as the world now knows, clergy.
Places of worship should be, and usually are, safe havens from the dangers of the world. Still, every congregation must implement policies and practices to reduce the possibility of sexual abuse. These policies can help to protect not just children, but also the adolescents and vulnerable adults in your community.
The following is a checklist of 10 critical steps that can help reduce the potential for abuse in your congregation:

  1. Develop and implement a "Safe Congregation" policy that prescribes a code of ethical behavior and enunciates the congregation's safety procedures. Make sure congregants know about the policy. Provide copies to all employees, volunteers and job applicants. Let it be known that your faith community does everything possible to protect its members from abuse and harassment.
  2. Create a Safe Congregations Committee or a Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Response Team, and provide them with the skills training they need to be effective guardians of the congregation. This committee will be responsible for adopting and enforcing safety policies, communicating with the congregation, and reporting regularly to the congregation's leadership.
  3. Implement annual training for all volunteers in the religious education program so that they can recognize signs of possible sexual abuse and know what actions to take.
  4. Know your state's laws about reporting concerns about child abuse. Make sure the pastor or rabbi, religious education director and board chair understand the procedures to follow. Unless they are mandated reporters (required by state law to report suspected child abuse directly to the authorities), religious educators and volunteers should have a clear policy about how and when to alert the professional ministerial staff about potential abuse.
  5. Adopt a screening form for all employees and volunteers (adults and teenagers) who work with children and youth. The form should ask directly about histories of sexual offenses. The use of a screening form in and of itself may deter someone looking for easy access to children. Rigorous screening procedures demonstrate that your congregation is committed to being a safe place for children.
  6. Implement a policy requiring that two adults be present in every class or program for children and youth, as well as in vehicles transporting young people to activities.
  7. Offer annual adult education programs on sexual abuse prevention for parents and families, as well as for religious education teachers.
  8. Offer regular sexuality education programs for children and adolescents as well, including sex abuse prevention, so they know how to recognize when an adult is acting inappropriately toward them. Every child, from the age of three onward, can learn "No, Go, Tell" - say no to the abuse, leave the situation as soon as possible, and tell a parent or trusted adult if someone tries to touch them or asks them to keep a secret about touching. Tell children that their religious educator, minister or rabbi, or youth leader can help them.
  9. Be sure adults in your congregation (including youth ministers) understand the difference between working with youth and becoming their friends. Healthy adults do not seek friendships with children and teens. An unhealthy relationship initiated by a sex offender may begin as a mentor or friend relationship as the offender "grooms" the child for intimate behaviors.
  10. Create and distribute a referral list of local organizations and therapists who specialize in sexual abuse prevention and treatment. Ask for help when you need it.
Congregations also should have procedures in place for how to respond when someone in the congregation is accused of abuse, or when a person with a history of sexual offenses wants to begin attending the congregation. My book, A Time to Heal: Protecting Children and Ministering to Sex Offenders, is available from Christian Community. An online guide, Balancing Acts: Keeping Children Safe in Congregations, developed for the Unitarian Universalist Association, offers provide a template appropriate for communities of faith in all traditions.
Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship can play an important role in helping prevent child abuse and equipping parents and children to be safe. Developing and implementing policies can assure that no child or teenager is abused in our sacred spaces.

Follow Rev. Debra Haffner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/revdebra  

Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer
Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer abused an estimated 2,000 boys for decades without sanction

About Me

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It is unfortunate that it has come to this. It is a big darn shame it has come to this. It is very hurtful that it has come to this. But yet, IT HAS COME TO THIS. It has come at the price of a GREAT CHILUL HASHEM. It has come to Hashem having to allow his holy name to be DESECRATED so that his CHILDREN remain SAFE. Shame on all those responsible for enabling and permitting Hashem's name to be desecrated! When you save children you save the future. You save the future you save generations. You save generations you save lives. You save lives you have saved the world!!!!!!!