Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Haim Ramon guilty of sexual abuse of an Israeli soldier

Breaking News
Ramon convicted of molestation
JTA - January 31, 2007

Israel’s former justice minister, Haim Ramon, was found guilty of sexual molestation.

Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday convicted Ramon, 56, for forcibly embracing and kissing a female soldier in July.

Ramon, who stepped down from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Cabinet after the indictment was served, has said the kiss was consensual, and he is expected to appeal the verdict.
He could be jailed for up to three years.

The conviction was another blow to Olmert’s Kadima Party, which has been dogged by legal scandals.

Arrested: Achi Ben Shalom - Day School Teacher

Contra Costa Times
January 31, 2007

El Cerrito
TEACHER CHARGED IN MOLESTATION CASE: Prosecutors filed a felony child molestation charge Tuesday against a former teacher at a Jewish day school accused of groping a student.

Police arrested 52-year-old Achi Ben Shalom of El Cerrito in December on suspicion of committing lewd acts on a girl attending Tehiyah Day School, where he taught Hebrew and music classes.

Ben Shalom posted bail immediately after his arrest. In a phone interview with the Times last month, he denied the allegations.

Case of Greg A. Eisenstein, Youth Coach - Freehold, NJ

Youth coach charged with sex offense
Asbury Press
January 23, 2007

HOWELL — A 35-year-old wrestling coach for a recreation program is facing charges of performing a sex act in front of an 11-year-old wrestler, police said.

Greg A. Eisenstein was arrested Sunday night at his home in Freehold Township, police said.
On Thursday evening, the Howell Predator Wrestling Club was using a local school's facilities for practice when Eisenstein took the boy to a secluded area of the school, exposed himself and performed a sex act, police said.

The boy reported the incident to his father after practice, said Capt. Steven Dreher.

The next day, the father called Ted Lindemann, president of the club, who is also a coach. Lindemann immediately called police, according to authorities. Police said the wrestling club has cooperated fully with law enforcement.

Eisenstein was charged with sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and lewdness, police said. The assault charge stems from Eisenstein having a supervisory role with the child, police said.

The club is open to boys in grades 1-8 residing in portions of Howell, Manalapan, Freehold Township and Freehold.

It has approximately 135 youth members and 20 coaches, Harry Turner, a trustee and former president, said Monday.

Eisenstein had been a volunteer coach for the club for the past five years, Turner said.
Eisenstein does not have children who are club members, Turner said.

Howell has a township ordinance that requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks of adult volunteers working for youth sports organizations. Turner said the background program is administered by the township Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with the Police Department.

"We have policies in place designed for a coach never to be alone with an athlete," Turner said. "That's for the protection of the coaches and the athletes. I am not specifically aware of the circumstances of the day of this alleged incident, but a typical club practice will have as many as five adult coaches present."

Turner said when the club received the complaint Friday, Eisenstein was told he could not attend that day's practices.

Howell Detective Eric Rice and Detective Shawn Murphy of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office handled the investigation.

Eisenstein was released from the Monmouth County Jail Monday on bail set at $110,000.
The wrestling club was founded more than 10 years ago and has sent a number of members on to wrestle as varsity members of local high school teams. Turner said the club typically places in the top three in the Jersey Shore Junior Wrestling League, runs off-season programs, and has hosted clinics featuring former Olympic wrestlers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In Memory of Ilan Halimi

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It's not uncommon for torture victims to be sexually assaulted. I do not know if this is the case of Ilan Halimi. What I do know is he was barbarically murdered by a group of thugs. The reason? He was a Jew walking the streets of Paris. Tens of thousands of people have marched through Paris to protesting after Ilan's murder.

I don't remember hearing about this case in the mainstream news media in the United States so I wanted to do what I can to make sure Ilan Halimi is not forgotten. -- Jewish Survivors
From: The Awareness Center's Daily newsletter

I realize this is off topic. I'm posting it here because most Americans are not aware of the kidnapping and brutal murder of Ilan Halimi, who was French Jew who was tortured as part of a hate crime in Paris last year. We all need to be aware of the increase of anti-Semitism in the world.
French marchers in Paris with a picture of Ilan Halimi
<>Halimi to be buried in Israel
January 30, 2007

The body of a French Jew who was kidnapped and tortured to death last year by a gang seeking ransom will be taken to Israel for burial.

Ilan Halimi will be flown to Israel and buried in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul cemetery Feb. 9.

The Halimi family, led by Ilan’s mother Ruth, will accompany the body to Israel, along with David Roche, Paris head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and European Jewish Congress President Pierre Besnainou, who helped arrange the burial.

Halimi’s murder in early 2006 allegedly was committed by a youth gang calling itself the Barbarians.

French Jews were convinced that Halimi was kidnapped and tortured to death over a three-week period because he was Jewish, but many Gallic French people believed Halimi’s religion had nothing to do with the case and that government officials labelled it an anti-Semitic crime only to placate Jewish community leaders — despite the fact that gang members reportedly admitted during the investigation that they hate Jews and kidnapped Halimi because they thought all Jews were rich.
Gang members are in jail awaiting trial.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Looking For More information on Rabbi George Finkelstein

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The following comes from a survivor of Rabbi George Finkelstein:

I am telling you this story because I thank G-d I came out of it all pretty much OK, but if my "outing" this Rabbi through this story will help others come forward, especially if they were scarred by this Rabbi, then I'll feel I've done a service.

Rabbi George Finkelstein, long-time Principal at MTA- the YU boys HS is the Rabbi- Predator. I came to MTA for one year- and was warned by my friends that he was "gay" and he likes wrestling with kids. I heard it- but never took it seriously.

One evening, I wandered out onto the YU campus streets to buy something at the local greasy spoon (I dormed). It was about 9PM at night, and whom do I meet on the street but George. He proceeds to chat me up, and then invite me back to his office. I was totally flattered!

After a few minutes of talking in his office, he comes around to my side of his desk, stands over me, and asks me to hit him. I was stunned. "why would I hit you". Go ahead, he said, hit me. "No way, you're my principal, I'm not hitting you". At this point I was spooked., He asked me if I like wrestling., I said no. He said maybe you will. He proceeds to knock me to the floor, and sit on top of me, his crotch clearly rubbing against mine. He exorted me to wrestle with him. Not only did I refuse, but I figured that my best option to get out of there was to start crying. Here I am, a 15 year old boy scared out of my mind because his Rabbi/Principal on the YU campus was sitting on top of him on the floor at 9:30 at night. It was surreal.

My crying got him to stop. At which point I said it's best I leave, and I did.

Good luck- I hope this encourages others to come forward. Needless to say my year was ruined, and I left after that one year.

I am convinced that YU knew all about him. Now that he is Executive Director of one of the world's most famous synagogues, I only hope his temptations have been kept in check.

If you have any information regarding professional sexual misconduct by Rabbi George Finkelstein please forward it to me or contact The Awareness Center, Inc.

Melvin Sinowitz, PhD. - Psychologist accused of professional sexual misconduct

I keep hearing rumors about this case. If someone has more information please get in touch with me. The following was posted on a site which some might find offensive. For that reason I'm posting it here.

Monsey Psychologist Accused of Molestion

Monsey, NY (1/14/2007) Some time ago we received a letter from one of our readers accusing a well known Monsey resident and psychologist, Dr. Melvin Sinowitz, PhD. of inappropriate behavior. It is normally not our policy to republish comments or letters from readers however, after doing our do diligence and researching the past activities of Dr. Sinowitz we have concluded that the allegations put forth by the writer is indeed credible. Not only does the writers’ story deserve to be heard but our community needs to be aware of the type of predators that lurk within our midst. On September 17, 1999, Dr. Sinowitz was disciplined by New York State Education Department Office of the Professions, Summaries of Regents Actions on Professional Misconduct and Discipline for making recommendations in a child custody case that were not supported by sufficient data. Dr. Sinowitz's recommendations in the child custody case were made with bias and a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child(ren) involved. He was fined $5,000, his license to practice Psychology was suspended for 2 years and he received 2 years probation. The supporting data and link to the NYS Education Department site will be shown at the end of this article. Given the recent stomach turning events of child abuse that have gripped our community we feel that it is incumbent upon us to reveal the names and information of any accused predator, but only after doing our do diligence and establishing a documented past of deviant behavior. In the case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, accusation upon accusation arose and in each case they were dismissed for a so called lack of evidence. There are many men, both young and old, that to this day, carry the burden of Yehuda Kolko's reign of deviant terror. Although our site is satirical in nature, in a moment of levity we said "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" and decided to use this forum to publicize the story of a young girl who carries around the emotional scars of sexual abuse. It chilled us to the bone to think of a fragile child, from an unstable situation, being taken advantage of by someone she was supposed to trust. The story you are about to read is strictly the authors interpretation of events that took place between her and Dr. Sinowitz. We have no way of knowing whether or not they took place at all. However, given Dr. Sinowitz's documented past history of indifference towards the welfare of children, it is our opinion that he has little or no credibility. We are sure that many of you will ask why someone with such strong accusations would contact our site, which by and large is viewed as a satire on Orthodox Jewish sexuality. Truthfully, even we were suspicious and suspected that this was nothing more than another attempt at bringing down our site with a silly hoax. However, when we asked to speak with our reader by phone she readily contacted us and was candid with us. She told that she had reached out to other frum bloggers and forums and was made to feel as if her allegations where worthless and that she had some "ax to grind". The general feeling she got was that she was nothing more than a rabble rouser causing trouble for another "yid". In our site she felt she would at least get a listen to because of our utter disdain for phonies in the "frum" community and because of the vast amount of traffic that our site gets. Yes, she knew we would "eat this up" and that this would be a front page story should we deem her to be credible. After speaking with her and doing our own research, we feel she is indeed credible and that her story at least deserved to be heard. This post is in no way an indictment of Dr. Sinowitz. Just as we have drawn our own conclusions, we hope you will take the time to do the same. Here is her story, as is, raw, with no corrections and NO editing.:

i am writing this letter/comment to "playchosid" because my most horible memories of my 30 yrs on this earth have recently beeen rekindeled, i am maried with 3 beautiful kinderlach kh,and i dont live in ny any more because of the things that i went through as a child there, but i still keep in touch with my family and friends, and i read on the internet and blogs so i still keep up with all the news and shmooze from n.y. . this year for chanuka we went to ny to visit and we just came back home today on motzi shabbos,but before we left we went to kosher delight in Flatbush with some friends who wanted to treat us, and when we were there my husband ran into an old friend that he went to yeshiva torah temima with, so they shmoozed for a while while i took the children to wash there hands and when my husband came back he said "oh my gosh” i cant believe what is going on there, my old friend just told me that a rebbi from the yeshiva that we went to was in big trouble now because somehow they found out that he was mollesting kids,when i heard those words im telling you my whole body mamesh froze into solid ice, and since i heard it i am so depressd and i have so many bad memories that are coming back and now i cant sleep or eat, because i am so disgusted by it and i feel like i have to say something it would be an averah not to, and that is why i am going to tell you what happend to me,i am from bklyn ny, from a verry frum family. we lived in the heart of the frum comunity, we went to the same schools, and shuls ,bought our food at the same stores and knew the same people, my family was just like all of the other families.exept for one thing,my parents were not together,we did not have a father,we were the broken 17 yrs old i was sent to live with a family in monsey,the picture perfect yidishe heim, the wife a stay home mother,the father a rebbi in a yeshiva,the house always filled with children laughing, shabbos was full of simcha, the table always full of guests,singing nigunim and and giving d'var torah every one of there 11 children b'simcha.i loved them like they were my own family, and they treated me like i was ,sometimes i even wished i was, they were such a good stable yidishe heim,and my own real family was " a broken mishpacha" no matter how alike we were with the other mishpachas in the neighborhood we were still the ones "with no father" the ones from "a divorced family"we also were a family with "only" 3" children a "small" family we were the family who's mother was "that lady who work'd in the store" because she has 3 children to take care of," its such a nebach"and me and my younger sister were the 2girls that no matter how "good" we were how "nice" we were ho "aidel" we were, would not be able to get a "good shiduch" from a "good family "because we were from a broken home ,my mother never gave me a real reason for why i was going to stay with a family in monsey,but i believed it was so maybe i could find a "good" shiduch i was only 17 at the time, i right away became a part of my new family they took me in with open arms and treated me like one of there own, the 12th child,the mother let me use her car and i found a job in a local chasidishe grocery store, but the day after i arrived in my new life my mother called me from brooklyn to see how i was doing, and to also tell me that she didnt want me to feel unwanted , and this was verry good for me and that i should call her if i needed to talk ever,and to let me know that at 4:00 the next day i had an apointmentwith Dr. mel sinowitz a therapist my mother said she thought it would be good for me to go and she had talked to a rov about it and he also said it was a good idea for me, i didnt really want to but i said ok.the next day i was sitting in front of dr sinowitz talking about my family my past my my father marrage and every thing else,i was verry surprised when i left becuse i felt verry relaxed and good about my life and my future, and i actualy looked forward to going to see him again,i saw him for 4 1/2 months and he was so reasuring to me so nice, more like a close friend than a doctor, he would even tell my about things in his life, one day when i went to talk to him i was verry upset,i was crying, my younger sister had been sent to school in connecticut, and she only went home for a shabbos once a month so i didnt see her much, but i spoke to my mother and she told me that my sister was kicked out of school, and she was doing verry bad things and she was friends with a bad crowd, with the "bums"i started crying right away when i started talking about it,and dr sinowtz got up and got a box of tissues and sat next to me and hugged me, i didnt know what to say i was shocked,he was rubbing my back and saying its ok im here for you, then he started to play with my hair, he told me that i was beautifull and he said that it felt good to finally hold me, he was talking about his wife, he said that she was verry heavy and he wasnt attracted to her was telling me that we had a verry special bond and that he was a doctor and he knew what i needed and how to take care of me,i felt verry uncomftorble but i believed him becase he always made me feel good before, when it was time for me to go i got up to leave his office,and he said no dont go you need to stay and get all of this out of your mind, it is not healthy to be so sad so i sat back down and he was hugging me again,and after mabe 10 minutes he was putting his hand up my skirt,i was so embarased, but i was scared to say anything so i just pretended like nothing was happening, he put his hands inside my panties but the whole time my skirt was still covering his hands and for 2 hrs dr. sinowitz talked to me about being happy and having faith and how evrything is "hashgocha protis" and the whole time his hands were inside my panties.when i left i cried so much i felt like i was dirty i wanted to go to the mikva but i couldnt i was not married i was so scared i didnt want to tell anybody because i thought they would not believe me so for 2 yrs i went back twice a week and dr sinowitz would do the same thing to me every time, over the first few weeks he started to do more things to me, he would take out his penis and make it hard but only through his zippe rand he would stand in front of me and play with it and say "do you like this"and he would tell me to give it a kiss, and then he would put his hand in my skirt and he would put his fingers inside me, and also inside my anus. while the whole time he would play with his penis and then when he was almost finished he would say my name and then say turn around now im almost finished and when i would turn around he would pull down my skirt and panties and then he would cum on me and then he would close his pants and tell me how wonderfull i am and he would kiss me with his tounge and then i would go,he never put his penis inside me, but he did everything els to me and every time it was a little bit diffrent exept for when he was finished it was always the same way, on my buttocks , so it got to be a relief when he would say turn around because i new it was almost finished i have never told anyone about this, i am maried with 3 children and my husband dosent even know, i didnt write everything here because it would take forever and it is also to painfull but im writing this because of what rabbi yehuda kolko did when i heard the story it brought back all of these bad memories and i cant make them go away, i feel so bad for the children that he did that to i know how bad they fell to and i also worry about if there are more children that he did it to that nobody knows about because they are scared to tell anyone because then they wont be able to get a "good shiduch"

Perhaps after reading this story you will feel that the writer is a liar with an ax to grind. Perhaps you will cringe because of the “chillul hashem”. Perhaps you will find her story a lie because it was published on our site. Maybe just maybe some of you out there will feel the pain and anguish of this young woman. Maybe some of you will see that child abuse is way more prevalent in our community than we’d care to admit or that the abusers garner way more support than the ones they abuse. We are reasonably sure that will get out fair share of self righteous comments professing their outrage against the accuser. This is in itself is hardly surprising and quite typical of the “frum” community. In the case of Dr. Sinowitz, should these allegations prove to be true, than hopefully this article will trigger an investigation or at the very least make the community aware of a potential threat. If these allegations are not true, than let this post serve as a warning to Dr. Sinowitz and other “child psychologists” who are guilty of unscrupulous behavior, that the life and welfare of a child is not to be toyed with. Manipulating a child’s custody for your own personal gain or because of your personal bias is still a reprehensible act and is still a form of abuse. In closing, let us reiterate that in spite of the satirical nature of this blog and in spite of the adult nature of its content, we will continue to write expose` such as this. We found this article painful to write and took no joy in being privy to such a sordid affair. It is our sincere wish to see the apologists who are allegedly our “Gedolei HaTorah” do a complete about face and acknowledge the fact that there a pedophiles in our midst and that they threaten the lives and welfare of our children. Until then justice will be meted out by the Lord above. The question is….can we wait that long?


Melvin Sinowitz, Hartsdale, NY
Profession: Psychologist;
Lic. No. 004534;
Cal. No. 17982
Regents Action Date: September 17, 1999
Action: Application for consent order granted; Penalty agreed upon: 2 year suspension, execution of suspension stayed, probation 2 years, $5,000 fine.
Summary: Licensee did not contest charge of making a recommendation regarding child custody when said recommendation was not supported by sufficient evidence in the test data or the case history.

Sinowitz, Melvin PhD.
111 N Central Ave
Hartsdale, NY 10530-1903
Sinowitz, Melvin, CP (Certified Professional)
10 Sophia St
Monsey, NY 10952-2012

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rabbi and Child Psychiatrist - Rabbi Alan J. Horowitz - America's Most Wanted

America's Most WantedAmerica's Most Wanted. CALL OUR HOTLINE. 1-800-CRIME-TV.
It's amazing that not one Jewish Newspaper picked up this story!

It is believed that Rabbi Alan Horowitz is currently in Thailand involved with the child sex slave business. -- The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter

Rabbi and Child Psychiatrist
Rabbi Alan J Horowitz

America's Most Wanted
January 17, 2006

The Makeup of A Predator?
Alan Horowitz is a convicted child molester.
Alan Horowitz is an Ivy-League educated child psychiatrist. He's also an ordained Orthodox Rabbi. He's not exactly the kind of guy you would peg as child sexual predator. That's why the community of Hagerstown, Maryland was shocked in 1983 when Horowitz was convicted of performing an unnatural sexual act on one of his 12-year old male patients. His medical license was suspended. He was sentenced to five years probation. And, after serving that time, Horowitz took off.

He ended up in Israel where he met up a "matchmaker" who introduced to him to a woman who became his wife. He moved in with her and her kids and began studying to become a Rabbi. His new family had no idea why he fled the United States. But, soon they found out. Israeli police began investigating charges Horowitz was sexually abusing some of his wife's children. But before they could arrest him, he took off again. The next time he resurfaced was in Schenectady, New York.

That's where cops say he went back to what he's always done - harm children. In 1991, Horowitz was charged with 41 sex-related crimes against children. When investigators went to lock him up, he was gone. Police went all the way to Iowa to find him and on July, 27, 1992 Horowitz pled guilty to raping a nine year old psychiatric patient. Horowitz went to jail and didn't see freedom until 2004.

When Horowitz was released in 2004, he was told he was on parole until 2011. He was ordered to stay away from children, to register with the state, and to meet regularly with his parole officer. The reason for all of the conditions of release from prison was because the state felt he was a true risk to children. In fact, there was no question that this man was a true predator of children. In one of his writings for NAMBLA -the North American Man/Boy Association, Horowitz wrote, "I would like to use this space to comment on just what it is that makes incarceration different, and worse, for child-lovers than for virtually anyone else."

The Mind Games and The Manhunt
Horowitz followed the conditions of his parole for almost two years. Until June 7, 2006. That was the last day he met with his parole officer. The next day-cops say-he hopped a plane from Newark, New Jersey to Narita, Japan not far from Tokyo. Later in June, Horowitz wrote a letter to his parole officer postmarked from Israel. He told his parole officer he wanted to change his address for the state's sex offender registry and gave a new address in Tel Aviv.

That's right-at the same time Horowitz was seemingly flaunting his new found freedom, he was appearing to "do the right thing" by updating his address with the state. Police quickly got a warrant for his arrest for violating his parole and the manhunt was on. Police also named him to New York's 100 Most Wanted List.

Information valid as of last update.
Violation of Parole, Schenectady, NY; Jun 08, 2006

Domestic Violence In Israel

Her choice: An abusive husband or deportation
By Shahar Ilan
January 29, 2007

The life story of 28-year-old M. could be the plot of an especially dramatic soap opera. A member of the Falashmura, M. came to Israel in 1998 as the daughter of an amputee. When she went to the Interior Ministry to register her first-born child, she was told that she had to leave the country - because she was not, in fact, the daughter of the woman who raised her. M. has an older stepsister - also adopted, but by a different mother - who found herself in a similar situation. When the two women finished their conversion studies, the Interior Ministry ordered that they not be converted. As far as M. knows, her father was Jewish, but she has no way of proving it.

M. gave birth to two more children. But their father gets drunk on the weekend and abuses them. In one instance, M. says, the father stuffed one of the children's mouth with food and said "I'll kill you with food." M. then fled with the children to a battered women's shelter.

If she leaves the shelter, she will be homeless. If she is deported, her children, who are Israeli citizens, will also be deported. M. is in the classic trap of foreign women who are victims of abuse in Israel: Their choice is between an abusive man and the risk of deportation.

On Thursday the High Court of Justice was scheduled to hear the sisters' petition. But the hearing was postposed for six months, during which they will continue to live without status and without rights.

When M. and her sister came to Israel in 1998, they, like other Falashmura who are not Jewish, were given temporary residency. In Israel, the Falashmura study for conversion and after the ceremony receive immigrant status and Israeli citizenship. However once the Interior Ministry found out during their conversion course that they were adopted but did not have adoption papers, they were ordered to leave the country.

M. says the ministry informed her she was not her mother's biological child in 1999 when she went to register her first-born child. After M. promised her mother that she would always see her as such, her mother admitted that she took in M. at the age of two, after her biological mother was unable to raise her.

The sisters' lawyer, Yohanna Lerman, told the High Court of Justice in the petition that in Ethiopia adoption is conducted through the families, rather than the courts; therefore, there are no official papers documenting the sisters' adoption. Lerman says the two women have been living in Israel for the past seven years without status and with practically no rights.

Meanwhile, the other sister moved in with a man she met in Ethiopia and bore him two children. Ostensibly, the shared domicile should have accorded her rights.

M., on the other hand, moved in with a man in Jerusalem and bore him three children, who are registered only on the father's identification card.

M. says her partner beat her and the children continuously. According to M. he would tell her "if I kill you no one will look for you," and "I'll call the police and they'll send you to Addis Ababa."

She fled to the shelter at the end of June 2006. "I have no identification card, no one will help me. I don't sleep at night thinking about tomorrow."

In the petition, Lerman asked the court to treat the sisters as adopted and to allow them to convert and become Israeli citizens.

Interior Ministry official Elinor Golan wrote in letters regarding the second sister, that if she left the country, her partner could request a visa for her based on their relationship. But she reiterated the ministry's demand that both sisters leave the country immediately.

In the state's response to the petition, assistant state prosecutor Michal Tzuk asked the court to reject the sisters' request since the case rightfully belongs in the Administrative Court. She also claimed that other legal avenues had not been exhausted; for example, they had not requested a residency permit so that they could convert.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said the ministry is working on a procedure for female foreign nationals who have lost their status in Israel, because they have left an abusive husband, and all exceptional cases will be reviewed.

Israel - Teen murderer, rapist sentenced to life

Jerusalem Post
January 25, 2007

The Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday sentenced the youth who was convicted of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Ma'ayan Sapir in May 2005 to life in prison plus 15 years, despite the fact the he is a minor.

The justices wrote in their decision that "the accused did not take pity on Ma'ayan or her body, and didn't feel a drop of pity for her at any stage. Not when he attacked her while she was walking…, not when he led her to the scene of the murder, not when he sexually assaulted her, not before he murdered her, not when he choked her, and not today."

"Beyond that," the decision continued, "the danger [presented by] the accused is growing worse."

The judges added that during the sentencing, the youth had not provided any explanation of his motives, and had only repeated that he was "sorry," and "didn't know what to say."

According to the indictment, the teenager met Sapir on her way to the mall, knocked her violently to the ground and dragged her into the empty schoolyard. He then raped, sodomized and strangled her.

The suspect, according to the charge sheet, then fled the scene of the murder and disposed of Sapir's clothing in a nearby alley. He was arrested shortly after the murder and was found to have been under the influence of glue fumes and alcohol.

The attacker, a juvenile offender with a history of violent crime, was on his second furlough from a correctional institution.

Professor Marc B. Shapiro, Orthodox rape cover-up is hardly a recent phenomenon

From Jewish Whistleblower:
Dan Rabinowitz at the Seforim blog posts an interesting post in the name of Professor Marc B. Shapiro [] demonstrating that covering up sexual abuse (rape in this case) in the Orthodox community is "hardly a recent phenomenon".

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Uncensored Books (Dr. Marc B. Shapiro)

Uncensored Books
Marc B. Shapiro
As long as I am talking about the very interesting sefer Ma’aneh Eliyahu [volume of teshuvot by Gaon R. Eliyahu Rabinowitz-Teomim, the Aderet] let me also call attention to something in it that is relevant to what is in the news today. I refer to the problem of rabbis covering up cases of sexual abuse. In no. 32 the Aderet deals with a case where a girl was raped by two young Jewish men. Her family wanted to report this to the police, so that the rapists would receive a fitting punishment. The Aderet writes:

#1514;י אל לבם להשק&#1497;ט הדבר, לבל יתחל&#1500; שם ישרא&#1500; בעמי&#1501; מהפק&#1512;ות ופרי&#1510;ות צעיר&#1497; הנער&#1497;ם, לאנו&#1505; ולנא&#1493;ף ולחל&#1500; שבת ולרצ&#1493;ח, וגם יש סכנה בדבר לריב עם עזי פנים כמות&#1501;, ושמע&#1493; אלי.

We see from this that the practice of covering up these sorts of things is hardly a recent phenomenon.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Responding to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Rabbi Yakov Horowitz - Director, Project Y.E.S
Project Y.E.S., a division of Agudath Israel of America Community Services, Inc., has developed a program designed specifically to address the situation.

The following are comments I posted on another blog. I've recieved a great deal of emails regarding the following statements and figued I should make the comments more public.

Excuse me for being naive and asking you the following questions. You stated on your blog:
1) I needed to edit your comment. I cannot allow names of individuals (alleged offenders) or schools (named in law suits or where there are allegations of mishandling cases) to remain on my site.
Why can't you allow names of individuals (of alleged or convicted sex offenders) or schools (where allgations were made of a cover-up) on your site?

One of the keys to prevention is warning parents and community members that there is a problem and that someone they know and love might be molesting their neighbors children. Don't you think it's wise to alert the communities of the problems?

OK, so you chased a sex offender out of your town, but aren't you concerned about the new community he moved in to?
2) Regarding the numbers [of victims] that I noted in my column. . .
Well, take the number of orthodox women in the world and the number of orthodox men. Statistically a third of the women and a fifth of the men were sexually abused as children. That's the answer you need to be addressing.

As for Dr. Pelcovitz, exactly what is his education and training in working with sex abuse? How long has he been working in the victimization field? From what I've found he's really only qualified to be working in the general mental health field. He really doesn't have the background in child abuse or neglect. I have to admit that I am not impressed by the "experts" you keep referring to.
3) I noted that I've been wanting to produce a booklet for members of the Torah community that will help parents speak to their children about abuse prevention. . . I am not a “one issue” person. I am certainly not an expert on abuse and neglect, nor do I plan on making the very noble cause of preventing abuse the primary or even secondary focus of my writing and/or time.
OK, now you got me really worried. You want to write a booklet about abuse prevention, you say you are not an expert on abuse and neglect, and you don't plan on becoming one. So why are you qualified to write a much needed booklet on this topic? First off there are tons of booklets out there created by extremely qualified individuals. Why are you recreating the wheel?
4) I do, however, take my responsibilities very seriously and felt that I should not dodge a tough question regarding the topic of abuse.
I'm happy you said this, but you should be working closely with the New York Coalition Against Sexual Assault. You want to make changes in the community? Please work only with those who are truly experts in the field!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hamodia (Orthodox News Paper): Not A Word About President Moshe Katsav Being Charged With Rape

Not a word about sex
By Yair Ettinger

January 26, 2007

Yated Ne'eman - Bnei Brak

Had the president's aides wished to spare him some grief over breakfast yesterday, they would have given him a copy of the Orthodox daily Hamodia.

Under the main headline about transferring funds to the Palestinian Authority, the Agudat Yisrael mouthpiece published various stories on housing for Gush Katif evacuees and news from the Jewish world.

The attorney general's decision to indict Moshe Katsav was not mentioned, nor were the charges being drafted against him or the political scramble to find a successor.

The newspaper's editors were hoping to spare the readers, and did not print the crude nature of the charges against the president.

The Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox daily Yated Ne'eman, however, deviated from its self-imposed censorship on the affair, publishing the following headline at the bottom of the front page: "Katsav expected to proclaim he is temporary incapable of fulfilling his duties."

The report itself, appearing on page 10, explains: "Yesterday the attorney general decided to indict him for a series of criminal offenses, such as using state funds for personal needs and obstructing legal procedures." Not a word about the main charges.

Editors of the ultra-Orthodox newspapers say the censorship is intended to protect their readers, not the president. They know their public is aware of the scandal's sexual nature, but prefer their readers to learn about it elsewhere. It is more important to keep the newspapers "clean," they say.

The religious radio station Kol Hai's news bulletins have been covering the Katsav affair since the attorney general's announcement Tuesday, but broadcasters, reporters and commentators have been ordered not to mention the nature of the charges or say words like "sexual harassment," "rape" and "abuse."

Interviewees are also warned not to use those terms on the air.

The channel did not broadcast the recent news conferences live, but only after offensive phrases had been deleted.

"When a father sits in his car with his children listening to the news, my job is to protect the children and not use terms alien to the children's pure world," said Mordechai Lavi, the radio's main news broadcaster.

The ultra-Orthodox editors say they will set the extent of censorship based on developments, but in any case the embarrassing sexual details will be excluded.

(Israel) In Memory of Ma'ayan Sapir - Murder Victim

Ma'ayan Sapir's mother (center) being comforted during the sentencing of her daughter's killer in Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday. (Motti Kimche)

Teen murderer, rapist sentenced to life

Jerusalem Post
January 25, 2007

The Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday sentenced the youth who was convicted of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Ma'ayan Sapir in May 2005 to life in prison plus 15 years, despite the fact the he is a minor.

The justices wrote in their decision that "the accused did not take pity on Ma'ayan or her body, and didn't feel a drop of pity for her at any stage. Not when he attacked her while she was walking…, not when he led her to the scene of the murder, not when he sexually assaulted her, not before he murdered her, not when he choked her, and not today."

"Beyond that," the decision continued, "the danger [presented by] the accused is growing worse."

The judges added that during the sentencing, the youth had not provided any explanation of his motives, and had only repeated that he was "sorry," and "didn't know what to say."

According to the indictment, the teenager met Sapir on her way to the mall, knocked her violently to the ground and dragged her into the empty schoolyard. He then raped, sodomized and strangled her.

The suspect, according to the charge sheet, then fled the scene of the murder and disposed of Sapir's clothing in a nearby alley. He was arrested shortly after the murder and was found to have been under the influence of glue fumes and alcohol.

The attacker, a juvenile offender with a history of violent crime, was on his second furlough from a correctional institution.

Israeli president Katsav Suspended

Israeli President Moshe Katsav shouts during a press conference at his Jerusalem residence, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007. Katsav, facing charges of rape and abuse of power, asked parliament Wednesday to temporarily remove him from office in an effort to blunt growing calls for his resignation, but hotly denied the accusations and charged Israeli media with a

Israeli president Katsav Suspended

Minnesota Star Tribune
January 25, 2007

An Israeli parliamentary committee on Thursday approved President Moshe Katsav's request to suspend himself for three months, as prosecutors prepare a case against him that could include charges of rape and other kinds of sexual misconduct. Dozens of lawmakers, meanwhile, pressed ahead with a move to oust him.

Katsav, who insists he is the innocent victim of a conspiracy, said he won't quit unless he is formally indicted.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Changes Made Over The Last Five Years!

The following note came from Vicki Polin at The Awareness Center. I think it's significant What do you think?

Amazing - The difference five years can makes!

© (2007) by Vicki Polin

Every once in a while I
Google the terms Jewish "sexual abuse", Jewish "sexual assault, Jewish "incest", rabbi "sexual abuse", rabbi "sexual assault", Jewish "clergy sexual abuse". I do this because I am curious what types of resources are out there.

The Awareness Center was just getting started and I would Google those terms, I would find it was quite upsetting to see that the only things that came up were porn and anti-Semitic sites. I remember sending out calls to action for everyone to contact Google to have them remove these sorts of sites.

Today when a Jewish survivor of sex crimes googles those terms they now able to find resources that could be helpful to them.

Please help support our efforts of ending sex crimes in Jewish communities. We can't do this kind of work without
your financial support. You can go to our home page and click on the link to paypal to make a donation or send your check to the address below. Remember all donations are tax exempt.

Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC - Executive Director

The Awareness Center, Inc.
(Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 65273, Baltimore, MD 21209

"An oak tree is just a nut that held its ground"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Amber Alert: TwoTeenagers Missing From DC Area


Police Reaching Out to Two Missing Teenagers

Eager for Call, Detectives Offer Assurance That Problems 'Can Be Worked Out'

Washington Post
Tuesday, January 23, 2007; Page B02

Police are searching for two Montgomery County teenagers who did not return to their homes after telling their parents they were going to a movie Friday, authorities said yesterday.

Police said they have no evidence of foul play in the disappearance of the two female teenagers. According to a statement released yesterday by Montgomery police, detectives from the Family Crimes Division "are concerned about the mental state of both girls and want to make certain that the teens know that whatever concerns or problems they may be facing can be worked out."

The detectives' concern is based on "comments that the teens have made in the past," said Lucille Baur, a spokeswoman for Montgomery police. She declined to be more specific.

The missing teens are Rachel Samantha Smith, 16, of Potomac and Rachel Lacy Crites, 18, of Gaithersburg. "They have been good friends for at least a year," Bauer said.

Smith spent the night at Crites's house Thursday with the permission of both teenagers' parents. The two were supposed to go to a movie in Georgetown on Friday, police said.

Smith's parents expected her home at 11:30 p.m. Friday, and after she did not return, they called police at 2 a.m. Saturday. "It was unlike her not to stay in touch," Baur said.

Police said that the two teenagers might have gone to Charlestown, W.Va., on Friday.

"We're asking that they please call and let us know they're all right," said Officer Melanie Hanley, a police spokeswoman.

Their parents could not be reached yesterday.

Smith, a student at Wootton High School in Rockville, was described as 5 feet 1 inch tall and 118 pounds, with green eyes and medium-length brown hair. Crites was described as 5 feet 4 inches tall and 110 pounds, with brown eyes and medium-length brown hair.

The teenagers are believed to be driving a dark blue 1997 Subaru Outback station wagon with Maryland license plates MBJ-485.

Anyone with information about the teenagers is asked to call the Montgomery County police non-emergency telephone number, 301-279-8000, or the Family Crimes Division at 240-773-5400.

A quote from a friend

"The day our rabbis and community leaders care more about our children then they do about their institutions and reputations -- will be the day we have a chance of ending all forms of sexual violence."

Israeli President Facing Rape Charge

Vicki Polin at The Awareness Center says:
Remember most sex crimes are never reported or prosecuted. Below is a list of other Israeli officials who had allegations made against them. If you know of others please post them:
  1. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner - Rosh yeshiva of the Ateret
  2. Yossi Boker, Assistant Commander - Police Investigative Department (Jerusalem)
  3. Eli Buhbut - Lieutenant Colonel, Israel Defense Forces
  4. Shmuel Faber - KACH Rescure Squad Volunteer
  5. Shaul Golan - Chief Financial Officer
  6. Yosef Jibli - Former Jewish Agency's Head of Administration
  7. Ariel Katsav - Son of Israel President
  8. Moshe Katsav - President of Israel
  9. Rabbi Yona Metzger - Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi
  10. Haim Pardes - Former President of the Tel Aviv Rabbinic Court
  11. Yitzhak Mordechai - Former Israeli Defense Minister
  12. Yosef Sagiv Ofri - Israeli Vice Consul, Security Officer
  13. Haim Ramon - Former Justice Minister
  14. Tuvya Sa'ar - Director-General of the Israeli Journalists' Union
  15. Aryeh Scher - Former Israeli vice-consul, Rio de Janeiro
  16. Uri Suissa - Former Senior Justice Minstry Official
  17. Rabbi Eliyahu Tzabari - Former Chief Rabbi of Ganei Tikva
  18. David Weinberg - Former Spokes Person, Bar-Ilan University
  19. Uriel Yitzhaki - Former Israeli Consul in Holland
  20. Moshe Meshi Zahav - Brother of the director of Disaster Victims Identification (ZAKA)
President Moshe Katsav with Pope Benedict XVI (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, courtesy of the Government Press Office)
Israeli President Facing Rape Charge

Israeli president facing rape charge, most series ever against Israeli official
by Ravi Nessman
Associated Press
January 24, 2007

(AP) Israeli President Moshe Katsav was considering whether to step down after the attorney general said he faced indictment on charges of rape and abuse of power _ the most serious accusation against a top Israeli official in the country's history.

Katsav's lawyers were defiant in the hours after the dramatic Justice Ministry announcement Tuesday, but Katsav was planning a news conference later Wednesday, and Israeli media were speculating that he would suggest a temporary leave from his post.

The allegation that Katsav used his position as Israel's ceremonial head of state _ a job supposed to serve as the nation's moral compass _ to force himself on his female employees has left the nation reeling.

"It is a sad day for the state of Israel," said lawmaker Benny Elon, who called on Katsav to resign to spare the nation further trauma. But Katsav gave no indication that he was preparing to step down, despite a wave of demands that he quit.

Attorney General Meni Mazuz's announcement that he intended to indict Katsav on a raft of charges was only the latest corruption scandal roiling the government, with accusations reaching as high as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Katsav, 61, has insisted he is innocent, and his lawyers said Tuesday they hoped to persuade Mazuz to change his mind before he formally indicts Katsav, a step that would make Katsav Israel's first sitting president to be charged with a crime. But many Israelis say the enormity of the scandal has already badly tainted the office of the presidency.

"He should be the symbol of Israel, the uniting person and an ideal model for all the politicians ... so this is a bad sign for Israeli politics," said Gabriel Sheffer, a political science professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The presidency was once filled by Zionist legends and revered statesman. Albert Einstein declined an invitation to serve as the nation's first president, with the job eventually going to the scientist Chaim Weizmann, a Zionist leader who was instrumental in the creation of the Jewish state. The presidency has also gone to a biophysicist, a historian and other men of letters.

But the office, whose main responsibilities include receiving foreign diplomats and representing Israel at formal ceremonies, has dropped in esteem in recent years.

Katsav's predecessor, the outspoken war hero turned peacemaker Ezer Weizman, resigned in 2000 after the attorney general ruled he had improperly accepted more than $300,000 in gifts from a French millionaire. Weizman was never indicted.

Katsav had a far less lofty resume than his predecessors. He had been a low-level Cabinet minister and a Likud Party stalwart when the parliament chose him to be president in 2000 in a shocking upset over Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres, after a revered rabbi said a "vision" showed him that Katsav was favored by the heavens, swinging votes among believers.

But Katsav's relatively quiet presidency was rocked last summer when one of his female employees accused him of forcing her to have sex in his office. A flood of other women quickly came forward with similar accusations, painting the picture of a politician who had abused his power throughout his career.

In the face of the growing scandal, Katsav disappeared from public life, hunkering down in the president's compound in Jerusalem. He even briefly removed himself from office in September instead of presiding over the inauguration of a new chief justice for the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, Mazuz said he had collected enough evidence to indict Katsav on charges of rape, harassment, abusing his power for sex, obstructing justice and illegally accepting gifts, stemming from his time as president and Cabinet minister.

Legal authorities said the charges could carry a sentence of more than 20 years in jail, though in most cases the defendant, if found guilty, would receive a five-to-10-year sentence. A final decision on the indictment would only be made after Katsav is given the opportunity to present his case.

Katsav's lawyers said they believed Mazuz would drop the indictment after hearing his side of the story.

"The president believes that everyone will see that he is the victim of false charges," said his lawyer David Libai. Some of the complainants were motivated by "revenge" after they were fired from their jobs, he said.

The president enjoys immunity while in office and could be tried only after his resignation, his impeachment by three-quarters of the parliament or the conclusion of his term, which ends this summer. Katsav had previously said he would step down if indicted.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum _ including those from his old party _ called on him to resign.

"The fact that he is going to be indicted is neither good for our reputation abroad nor for the morale of this country, and I hope that the sooner the president himself draws the conclusion, the sooner he decides to leave office, the better off we all will be," said Colette Avital, of the Labor Party, mentioned as a possible successor.

Kineret Barashi, an attorney for one of the Katsav's accusers, praised the indictment, saying that it proved the no one was above the law in the Israeli justice system.

The Katsav scandal erupted amid a spate of other political scandals that have darkened the Israeli government's reputation.

Police opened a criminal investigation earlier this month into Olmert's involvement in the sale of a government-controlled bank in 2005. Several other high-level politicians have been implicated in separate scandals.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rabbi Avi Shafran on the JTA Series

Note From: Vicki Polin, Executive Director - The Awareness Center
We all should thank Rabbi Shafran for helping to make Israelis aware of the JTA series on clergy sexual abuse. To this date I don't believe any of the Israeli newspapers or magazines have published the series.

The Awareness Center wants to encourage everyone to contact all of the Israeli newspapers and encourage them to publish the entire JTA series "Reining in Abuse" (in both English and Hebrew publications).

It's time for all of us to face the reality of how cases of sexual violence have been mishandled and covered up in all movements of Judaism (Renewal, Reconstructionist, Traditional, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox).

One of the Awareness Center's goals is to prevent one more individual from becoming the next victim of a sex crime. The only way things will ever change is by awareness, education and implementation of new policies.

We all must demand that our rabbis report all cases of SUSPECTED sexual violence to law enforcement instead of handling such cases on their own.

To this day I have not met one rabbi who has any training in collecting forensic evidence or in how to conduct a victim sensitive interview. Until this changes, these sort of cases NEED to be handled by those with the proper education, experience and knowledge. These are not cases for a synagogue, school, camp or beit din to be handling!

Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC - Executive Director
The Awareness Center, Inc.
(Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 65273, Baltimore, MD 21209
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What the rabbi said
Jerusalem Post
January 24, 2006

Sir, - Readers of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's recent series on clergy sexual abuse may have been misled by the report's assertion that the meaning of words spoken by a respected rabbinic authority at last year's Agudath Israel of America national convention is, as the article put it, "open to interpretation." The rabbinic authority, the article asserted, admitted "that haredim are indeed guilty of sweeping things under the carpet."

The writer of the series has acknowledged to me that he had not at the time listened to a recording of the speech.

Rabbi Salomon's words, however, could not have been clearer. He pointed out how some people like to accuse the haredi community of "sweeping things under the carpet." They are right, he went on to explain, but not in the way they mean. "Do they know how many perpetrators" of sins against others "have been dealt with?" No, he averred, because when actions are taken against individuals who have proven themselves untrustworthy, Orthodox leaders do not trumpet their actions. And even as they take what steps are necessary to protect others, he added, they also seek to protect human dignity.

Moreover, Rabbi Salomon declared that when crimes are asserted but not proven, Jews must be guided not by a mob mentality but by the Torah.

The JTA article may well be right that "several Web site and blog contributors" chose to interpret Rabbi Salomon's remarks as an admission that "haredi officials often look the other way when clergy sex abuse takes place in their midst." But that says something only about those Web site and blog contributors, and nothing at all about what Rabbi Salomon actually said.

Director of Public Affairs
Agudath Israel of America

This is Scary - Rabbis get 'virtual' smicha (rabbinic ordination)

Note from The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter:
Considering the issues that The Awareness Center addresses on a daily basis, how do you feel about orthodox rabbis being ordained on line? If our rabbis can find a way to ordain rabbis on line, why can't they find a way to revoke an ordination from a rabbi is a sex offender?

Reading the article below reminds me of a site which anyone can instantly become ordained member of the clergy: Once ordained, you will be given the legal status to perform weddings, etc.

Three newly ordained rabbis from Germany, holding certificates, who received their training through the Internet.

Unable to study in Israel, rabbis
learn in online ‘virtual’ yeshiva

By Toby Axelrod
January 21, 2007

BERLIN, Jan. 21 (JTA) — Germany has three new rabbis thanks to a virtual yeshiva.

Benzion Dov Kaplan, Donnell Reed and Yitzhak Mendel Wagner received their ordination Jan. 2 from the Jerusalem-based Shulchan Aruch Learning Program of Pirchei Shoshanim. The Orthodox smicha ceremony, which also included several other candidates, took place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

But since Kaplan, Reed and Wagner couldn’t leave Germany to study in Israel, the program enabled them to complete their training via Skype, the Internet telephone service, and other Internet sites, Reed said.

Reed, 41, an American who has lived in Berlin for 18 years, said the program allowed him to study Torah in the morning and evening while continuing to manage his business and spend time with his family. When he had questions, he turned to the Chabad rabbi in Berlin, Yehudah Teichtal.

Wagner, 27, from the city of Krefeld, studies Judaism at the University of Dusseldorf. For years he has been involved in local Jewish life, and now will head the community’s adult education programs.

Kaplan, 30, came to Germany from Ukraine and works as a rabbinical assistant for the Jewish community of Dusseldorf, which has co-sponsored his studies.

Germany has fewer than 30 ordained rabbis, not enough to serve its growing Jewish community. Official membership in the community has quadrupled to about 120,000 with the influx since 1990 of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Unofficially there may be as many as 200,000 Jews in Germany.

In the fall, three rabbis were ordained by the Reform Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, the first rabbinical program to grant ordination in Germany since the Nazis closed down Jewish schools. Teichtal also has seen some of his students become rabbis.

Another institution in Berlin, the Orthodox Yeshivas Beis Zion-Lauder College at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center, has some 30 male students, some of whom may pursue ordination, according to Rabbi Josh Spinner, vice president of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.

But the recent ordination in Jerusalem is likely the first that depended largely on Internet telephoning. Few of the candidates had seen each other until they met in Israel, Reed said.

According to Reed, the three Germans studied together over Skype and Virtual Yeshiva several times a week for two-and-a-half years.

They plan to continue their Internet studies together, and are hoping to find Russian-speaking men in Germany to join them.

Though it may seem somewhat unorthodox to learn over the Internet, Reed said several noted rabbis have endorsed the idea. Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, once told him that since Jews are urged to learn “while you sit in your home and while you walk on the way,” they ought to take advantage of modern technology to do so, Reed said.

Furor Over 12-Year-Old Dakota Fanning's Rape Scene

Furor Over 12-Year-Old Fanning's Rape Scene

The New York Times
January 22, 2007

"There are so many children that this happens to, every second. If anyone’s talking about anything, that’s what they should be talking about," Fanning said.
LOS ANGELES (Jan. 22) — Dakota Fanning will turn 13 next month, and she has a short answer for anyone who questions her decision to play a 1950s girl who gyrates in her underwear, wakes up as her naked father climbs into her bed, demands that a prepubescent boy expose himself to her in exchange for a kiss and, finally, is raped by a teenager who lures her with tickets to an Elvis concert:

She’s growing up. Get used to it.

Ms. Fanning, best known for leading roles in children’s movies like “Dreamer” and “Charlotte’s Web,” thrillers like “Man on Fire” and “War of the Worlds,” and the horror film “Hide and Seek,” now is starring in “Hounddog,” an independent film that is to have its premiere on Monday at the Sundance Film Festival. It has already won attention far out of proportion to its budget of less than $4 million.

When “Hounddog” was still shooting last summer near Wilmington, N.C., rumors about the rape scene kicked up a storm on the socially conservative end of the Web spectrum. Some suggested that Ms. Fanning was being exploited by the filmmakers, her parents and her agent. Hundreds signed a petition to persuade a local district attorney to prosecute the filmmakers under a law banning simulated sex with a minor.

The furor hampered the production, and it continues on Fox News and on Web sites like A Minor Consideration (, run by Paul Petersen, an advocate for child actors. Mr. Petersen, himself a former child actor who played Donna Reed’s son on her 1960s sitcom, said in an interview that Ms. Fanning should never have been allowed to play the victim in a rape scene, no matter how much she wanted to or how sensitively it was filmed, and that her doing so violated the letter of federal child-pornography law.

“Nothing excuses it,” he said. “The plain cold fact is this is illegal, the statutes are what they are, and Hollywood chose to ignore it. If they’d made the character 15, and hired a 19-year-old, they wouldn’t have heard a peep out of me.”

But the Wilmington district attorney, who was shown a cut of the movie, said no crime was committed, and the film’s writer and director, Deborah Kampmeier, said Ms. Fanning was treated more than appropriately: Though her character, Lewellen, disrobes under duress, for example, she is not seen nude, and Ms. Fanning was always clothed during the production.

Ms. Fanning, for her part, says she is mystified by the outcry. Anyone who sees the film, she said on Monday in her first interview on the subject, would understand that the rape scene wasn’t the point of the movie.

“That’s not who Lewellen is,” she said, sitting in her agent’s office in Universal City, braces on her teeth and a small crucifix over her sweater. “Because that has happened to her, that doesn’t define her. Because of this thing that has happened — that she did not ask for — she is labeled that, and it’s her story to overcome that and to be a whole person again.”

“There are so many children that this happens to, every second,” she added. “That’s the sad part. If anyone’s talking about anything, that’s what they should be talking about.”

Her mother, Joy Fanning, waited outside, and her agent, Cindy Osbrink, sat in, but it was Ms. Fanning who fielded the questions, and who made clear that her choices were, well, just that.

“You know, I’m an actress,” she said. “It’s what I want to do, it’s what I’ve been so lucky to have done for almost seven years now. And I am getting older. February 23 is my birthday, I’ll be 13 years old. And I will be playing different kinds of roles. I won’t be able to do the things I did when I was 6 years old when I’m 14. And that’s what I look forward to — getting to play new roles that aren’t too old for me and aren’t too young for me, that are just at the right time.”

She added: “Lewellen is still very innocent, she’s still a child, but she’s also a little bit wise beyond her years because of the things she’s seen and been through. So I think that I should be able to do what I feel is at the right time for me.”

The story of “Hounddog” is about not just rape but also about the cycle of violence: nearly every major character in it is motherless, wounded, repressed and destructive. Lewellen’s grandmother (Piper Laurie) violates her too, if only with her eyes; her father (David Morse) has been abusing her more directly, and it appears likely that, if nothing changes, Lewellen will become an abuser too.

Ms. Kampmeier said in a telephone interview that she had originally written the character as a 9-year-old, and first signed the actors Robin Wright Penn and Mr. Morse for the project in the late 1990s. But a succession of financial backers withdrew four times in four years, and she set the script aside in 2002 to make “Virgin,” her first feature, about a pregnant girl who believes that she is carrying God’s child; Ms. Wright Penn played the girl’s mother in the film, which received mixed reviews.

When Ms. Kampmeier sent Ms. Fanning the script for “Hounddog” in July 2005, Ms. Fanning said: “The bottom line was, I couldn’t not do it. It’s all I could think about. I knew I was at the perfect age.”

She had to wait nine months as Ms. Kampmeier hunted for investors; the subject matter remained objectionable to most, even with a proven star in the central role, the director said. (Making the most of that delay, Ms. Fanning said, the director sent her an e-mail message with a new question about Lewellen each morning: Favorite color? Favorite food? “That’s why I was so comfortable in Lewellen’s skin,” Ms. Fanning said, “because I knew so much about her.”)

Ms. Kampmeier said investors kept balking at the rape scene, demanding that it be shunted off-screen, merely implied or removed from the plot altogether.

About the online petitions to have her arrested, she said that the district attorney’s office in Wilmington was busy prosecuting real sex crimes, like one in which a 10-year-old girl was impregnated by her father. “All these cases are reported in the newspaper, and nobody ever calls them about that,” she said. “But they get 10 to 20 calls a day from people insisting that my movie be prosecuted.”

Ms. Fanning said the most taxing scene for her was one in which her sleeping character is covered by snakes that slither in through the open window of her tumbledown shack.

But it may be an earlier pivotal scene that draws more critical attention, should “Hounddog” find a distributor. In it Lewellen sings and dances her best Elvis impression — horizontally, on her bed — upon learning that the singer is coming to town. While she does, however, a teenage milkman is in the room, looking on a little too hungrily.

Overly sexual behavior in minors is often a telltale sign of prior abuse, and provocation is, unfortunately, in the eye of the provoked. But to Ms. Kampmeier’s mind, and more important, to Ms. Fanning’s, Lewellen’s dancing in this scene is as innocent as her already corrupted life can get.

“She’s 12 years old,” Ms. Fanning said. “She’s doing that because that’s fun. She’s not going so far as to think, ‘Oh, am I doing something wrong?’ or ‘Is this going to look in a weird way?’ He’s just her milkman. He’s coming to pick up the empties.”

Other articles:
Sex Abuse Scenes in Dakota Fanning's New Film Stir Up Controversy
'Hounddog': Fanning the flames of perversion
Hollywood Weighs In on Dakota Fanning 'Rape' Scene
Graphic Rape Scenes of 12-year-old Dakota Fanning in New Film Call for Federal Investigation

Monday, January 22, 2007

Upcoming Conferences on Sexual Abuse

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Repairing The Soul After A Cult

From The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter

I think many survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be able to relate to this article
Steven Spielberg presents TAKEN
Repairing The Soul After A Cult
By Janja Lalich
CSNetwork Magazine, Spring 1996, pp. 30-33.

I was recruited into a cult in 1975 when I was 30 years old. The previous year I returned to the United States after having spent almost four years in exile abroad, where I lived the most serene life on an island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain. If someone had told me that within a year I would be deeply involved and committed to a cult, I would have laughed derisively. Not me! I was too independent, too headstrong, a lover of fun and freedom.

But there I was, new to the San Francisco Bay Area and before long cleverly recruited into a group that preached Marxism and feminism and a passion for the working class.

I was told that we would be unlike all other groups on the left because we were led by women and because our leader was brilliant and from the working class. I was told that we would not follow the political line of any other country, but that we would create our own brand of Marxism, our own proletarian feminist revolution; we would not be rigid, dogmatic, sexist, and racist. We were new and different an elite force. We were going to make the world a better place for all people.

The reality, of course, was that our practical work had little if anything to do with working-class ideals or goals. Our leader was an incorrigible, uncontrollable megalomaniac; she was alcoholic, arbitrary, and almost always angry. Our organization, with the word democratic prominent in its name, was ultra-authoritarian, completely top down, with no real input or criticism sought or listened to. Our lives were made up of 18-hour days of busywork and denunciation sessions. Our world was harsh, barren, and unrewarding. We were committed and idealistic dreamers who were tricked into believing that such demanding conditions were necessary to transform ourselves into cadre fighters. We were instructed that we were the "uninstructed” and that we must take all guidance from our leader who knew all. We were never to question any orders or in any way contradict or confront our leader. We were taught to dread and fear the outside world, which, we were told, would shun and punish us. In fact, the shunning and punishment was rampant within; but blinded by our own belief, commitment, and fatigue, in conjunction with the group's behavior-control techniques, I and the others succumbed to the pressures and quickly learned to rationalize away any doubts or apprehensions.

I remained in that group 10 years.

Who Am I?

When I got out of the cult in early 1986, I had to begin life anew. I was a decade behind in everything. Both my parents had died, and I had lost touch with former friends. I had to play catch-up, so to speak, culturally, socially, economically, emotionally, and intellectually. But most important of all, I had to repair my soul. Who am I? How could I have committed the many unkind acts while in the group? Where do I belong now? What do I believe in now? Will I ever restore my faith in myself and in others? These are the kinds of questions and dilemmas that troubled me.

Over time, and most recently through my contact and work with former members of many types of cults, I've come to see that the single most uniform aspect of all cult experiences is that it touches, and usually damages, the soul, the psyche.
Creating A New Personality

All cults, no matter their stripe, are a variation on a theme, for their common denominator is the use of coercive persuasion and behavior control without the knowledge of the person who is being manipulated. They manage this by targeting (and eventually attacking, disassembling, and reformulating according to the cult's desired image) a person's innermost self. They take away you and give you back a cult personality, a pseudo personality. They punish you when the old you turns up, and they reward the new you. Before you know it, you don't know who you are or how you got there; you only know (or you are trained to believe) that you have to stay there. In a cult there is only one way cults are totalitarian, a yellow brick road to serve the leader's whims and desires, be they power, sex, or money.

When I was in my cult, I so desperately wanted to believe that I had finally found the answer. Life in our society today can be difficult, confusing, daunting, disheartening, alarming, and frightening. Someone with a glib tongue and good line can sometimes appear to offer you a solution. In my case, I was drawn in by the proposed political solution to bring about social change. For someone else, the focus may be on health, diet, psychological awareness, the environment, the stars, a spirit being, or even becoming a more successful business person. The crux is that cult leaders are adept at convincing us that what they have to offer is special, real, unique, and forever and that we wouldn't be able to survive apart from the cult. A person's sense of belief is so dear, so deep, and so powerful; ultimately it is that belief that helps bind the person to the cult. It is the glue used by the cult to make the mind manipulations stick. It is our very core, our very belief in ourself and our commitment, it is our very faith in humankind and the world that is exploited and abused and turned against us by the cults.

Repairing the Soul

When a person finally breaks from a cultic relationship, it is the soul, then, that is most in need of repair. When you discover one day that your guru is a fraud, that the " miracles” are no more than magic tricks, that the group's victories and accomplishments are fabrications of an internal public relations system, that your holy teacher is breaking his avowed celibacy with every young disciple, that the group's connections to people of import are nonexistent when awarenesses such as these come upon you, you are faced with what many have called a "spiritual rape.” Whether your cultic experience was religious or secular, the realization of such enormous loss and betrayal tends to cause considerable pain. As a result, afterwards, many people are prone to reject all forms of belief. In some cases, it may take years to overcome the disillusionment, and learn not only to trust in your inner self but also to believe in something again.

There is also a related difficulty: that persistent nagging feeling that you have made a mistake in leaving the groups perhaps the teachings are true and the leader is right; perhaps it is you who failed. Because cults are so clever at manipulating certain emotions and events in particular, wonder, awe, transcendence, and mystery (this is sometimes called "mystical manipulation") and because of the human desire to believe, a former cult member may grasp at some way to go on believing even after leaving the group. For this reason, many people today go from one cult to another, or go in and out of the same cultic group or relationship (known as "cult hopping"). Since every person needs something to believe in a philosophy of life, a way of being, an organized religion, a political commitment, or a combination thereof sorting out these matters of belief tends to be a major area of adjustment after a cultic experience.

What to Believe in Now?

Since a cult involvement is often an ill-fated attempt to live out some form of personal belief, the process of figuring out what to believe in once you've left the cult may be facilitated by dissecting the cult's ideological system. Do an evaluation of the group's philosophy, attitudes, and worldview; define it for yourself in your own language, not the language of the cult. Then see how this holds up against the cult's actual daily practice or what you now know about the group. For some, it might be useful to go back and research the spiritual or philosophical system that you were raised in or believed in prior to the cult involvement. Through this process you will be better able to assess what is real and what is not, what is useful and what is not, what is distortion and what is not. By having a basis for comparison, you will be able to question and explore areas of knowledge or belief that were no doubt systematically closed to you while in the cult. Most people who come out of a cultic experience shy away from organized religion or any kind of organized group for some time. I generally encourage people to take their time before choosing another religious affiliation or group involvement. As with any intimate relationship, trust is reciprocal and must be earned.

After a cult experience, when you wake up to face the deepest emptiness, the darkest hole, the sharpest scream of inner terror at the deception and betrayal you feel, I can only offer hope by saying that in confronting the loss, you will find the real you. And when your soul is healed, refreshed, and free of the nightmare bondage of cult lies and manipulations, the real you will find a new path, a valid path a path to freedom and wholeness.