Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Convicted Sex Offender - Rabbi Michael Ozair Living in Thailand

Sex-Offenders' Haven? Convicted Sex Offender Rabbi Michael Ozair Residing in Thailand, A Mecca of Pedophiles.
© (2008) Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC

Photo from Sex Offender Registry / Facebook Account Photo

Towards the end of May, a member of The Awareness Center happened to stumble upon convicted sex offender, Rabbi
Michael Ezra Ozair’s Facebook account.

When I was informed I immediately looked at Ozair’s site. I was stunned to see that most of his “friends” appeared to be teenage girls from Thailand, China, Israel and a few from Los Angeles. Rabbi Ozair did have a few adult friends listed (mostly male), several of whom were individuals in which The Awareness Center had been watching, due to worrisome information about them.

Considering Michael Ozair is a convicted sex offender and it appeared that he might be using his Facebook account to groom teenage girls, a report was made to the IC3 (The Internet Crime Complaint Center).

The fact that removing an account from Facebook is not the answer to the real problem, because Ozair -- like many other convicted sex offenders can easily create another account using another name within in minutes of an account being terminated. Nonetheless, it was hoped that his account closing would send a message that his behavior was being monitored.

Over the last few months several newspaper articles stated that Facebook had a policy that convicted sex offenders were not allowed to have an account with them. A note was sent to facebook with all the necessary information. At the time I thought the problem would be solved easily. I was wrong.

The next day I received a note back from Facebook asking for more information regarding Michael Ozair and was asked for a direct link to the sex offender registry in which he was listed. I went to both the California and National sex offender registry -- Michael Ozair was not listed. I had no idea what was going on and started to dig. After several phone calls and e-mails to law enforcement in Los Angeles, I learned that Ozair was no longer listed in a way in which he was easily found. Each state has its own protocols in how their registry works. Unfortunately, since Michael Ozair is currently registered as living outside the United States -- in Thailand, his profile is not easily accessed.

My contact at the LAPD forward Michael Ozair’s most updated registration to both the contact at Facebook and to me. I thought this would be all that was needed and Ozair’s account would be closed.

I didn’t hear anything for a few days and kept checking to see if Ozair’s account was removed. The entry was still there. I recontacted Facebook and they stated there was some technical difficulties with the police officer’s e-mail and that the officer would need to send the information to a different e-mail address and was asking for more information besides a copy of the sex offender registration.

On July 3, 2008, I finally received a note stating “After reviewing the reported abuse, we have removed all offending content based on our Terms of Use.”

If it weren't for the many hours communicating with Facebook and the LAPD, Michael Ozair’s account would have remained open -- Meaning this convicted sex offender would have maintained full access to teenage girls on Facebook.

I’m still bewildered with the reality that a convicted sex offender would be allowed to move to Thailand, especially considering it is known to be a haven for sexual predators. It’s also known as one of the worst countries when it came to the human sex slave trade.

Rabbi Michael Ozair’s case shines a light on a deeply worrisome phenomenon -- several American convicted sex offenders are moving to places like Thailand, China, India, Israel, etc. -- all known Mecca's for child predators to most likely continue creating more victims. As Americans we need to be concerned with not just the safety of our children, but the children of the world. Without a federal policy in place, American sex offenders will continue with this trend.

Click here: for more information on the case of Rabbi Michael Ozair

Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC is the Founder and CEO of The Awareness Center, the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Cry For Help - Update on the Case of David Kramer

© (2008) The Awareness Center
July 14, 2008

(St. Louis) June 26, 2008 --
David Kramer pled guilty to 2 counts of sexual molestation of a minor and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Below is a portion of the remarks made by the victim's father as part of the Impact Statement that was stated before the judge. The father felt that these remarks were worthy for the broader Jewish community to hear.

...this sentence sends an important and much needed message to the Jewish community, and society at large: namely; there shall be zero tolerance of sexual abuse and molestation of children. We the parents, leaders and clergy have to stand up for our children, and put our children first. Certain rabbis can't continue to shield predators. Parents have to report predators who assault their children. People in the Orthodox community must know: molestation is wrong and evil. Instead of the focus being on raising money for high priced attorneys to defend the predators --- let's support our children and put them first.
As a reaction to the case of David Kramer, Rabbi Ze’ev Smason was involved in the creation o of 'Our Precious Children' -- a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Jewish survivors of child sexual abuse in the St. Louis area.

Rabbi Smason shared:
I was stunned both by the community resources and money that were gathered and collected for David Kramer and his defense fund AND the deafening silence when it came to verbal and monetary support for the child survivor, his family, and Our Precious Children. The family told me that every morsel of support that they did receive, though, was greatly appreciated. Now that the sentence has been handed down, we're all hopeful that there's a degree of closure and the child survivor and family can move on.

There are other cases of sexual abuse and sex offenders here in our community. The obstinance of parents and clergy is stunning. For example, I warned one family who often hosts a certain “alleged” sex offender who was kicked out of his home by his wife. The husband of this host family said, 'we'll continue to keep having him over as a guest. I watch him carefully, and he doesn't show any interest in my children.' In another case, a family I know whose daughter was molested didn't report the abuse because ''our rabbi told us not to report it."

The needs of the survivor and family require support both for rape crisis counseling, as well as encouragement from the community to let the survivors know that they are not alone.
The Awareness Center often hears similar stories shared by Rabbi Smason in Jewish communities throughout the world.

Both The Awareness Center and Our Precious Children need your help so that we can continue to do the work we do.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New York Bill To Help Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Markey's Bill Extends Time For Child Sex Assault Victims To File Suit

Enactment of Markey's legislation would mean that a child victim would have until the age of 28 to seek prosecution.
The state Assembly has passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember Margaret Markey which grants victims of child sexual assault a longer period of time to press charges by extending the statute of limitations for criminal and civil actions for these offenses.

Explaining the purpose of the legislation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stated: "Child sexual assault is a horrific, painful crime that leaves a lifetime of scars. The goal of this legislation is to ensure that victims who have been forever traumatized must have every available opportunity to seek justice."

Markey said that the cornerstone of the legislation is a provision that would give persons for whom the right to bring a civil action has been foreclosed under the current civil statute of limitations a one-year window from the date of enactment of her bill, regardless of the victim's age, in which to seek damages for any past instance of child sexual abuse.

Markey (D- Maspeth) explained that under current law, the criminal statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases in which a victim does not report the crime to law enforcement or the statewide central register of child abuse is not applied until the victim reaches age 18.

Under the provisions of her legislation, Bill #4560-B, five years would be added to the statute, of limitations which is the period of time allowed to file charges for a given crime. By adding five years to the statute of limitations in child sexual assault cases, Markey emphasized, these cases would not begin to run until the victim turned age 23.

Enactment of her legislation, she said, would mean that a child victim would have until the age of 28 to seek prosecution.

Markey's bill covers both criminal and civil cases.

Pointing to the inability of many child victims to come forward before the current statute of limitations expires, Markey and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, chairman of the Codes Committee, said her bill was a "critical means of giving victims a voice, particularly those who are assaulted by people with authority over them".

Markey noted, "When it comes to sexual assault, no person is above the law. As children, many of these victims are fearful of coming forward. This bill will provide a remedy for those whose lives have been shattered by the tragedy of childhood sexual abuse. Victims of these horrific crimes will get their day in court and be able to seek the justice they have been denied for too long."

She added, "The pain and suffering caused by child sexual assault is an issue which has left many victims struggling to recover. We must make their lives whole again. Victims must have the pain and suffering inflicted upon them acknowledged and the perpetrators must be held accountable for their acts. Only when these basic rights are accepted and addressed can victims find closure and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. We owe them the opportunity to have their voice heard."

Markey's bill now goes to the state senate for consideration.

Bill Summary

C-SPAN Showing of Marci Hamilton: Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children

Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children
To watch video click on the WATCH button on the upper right hand side!

Author: Marci Hamilton

About the Program: In "Justice Denied," author Marci Hamilton discusses the current legal ramifications of child abuse and the statutes that are currently in place making it difficult for victims of childhood abuse to recieve justice. Mrs. Hamilton uses the current clergy sexual abuse scandal as an example. David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), introduced Marci Hamilton. This event was held at Princeton University.

About the Author: Marci Hamilton is a visiting professor at Princeton University. She was a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and specializes in constitutional law and church/state relations.

UPDATE: Case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler - New York State’s top appellate court's recent decision

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In Sex-Abuse Case, Court Issues Watershed Ruling on Rabbinical Duty
By Anthony Weiss
The Forward
July 10, 2008

What is a rabbi to a congregant? A therapist? A friend? A conduit to God?

These questions were taken up by New York State’s top appellate court in a recent decision that pivoted on the issue of what rabbis can and cannot do in the eyes of the law. The answers the judges gave were not definitive, but the 10-page decision does give insight into a probing debate about the role that rabbis play in society.

The debate arose in the context of the already controversial case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, who lost his pulpit job in upstate New York after allegedly having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a congregant.

In a unanimous decision, handed down June 25, the New York State Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Tendler had abused his position to manipulate his former congregant. The court did not say that the relationship did not exist. Instead, the judges determined that Tendler had not been established to have a “fiduciary duty” to (Name Removed), the congregant in question, that would have prohibited him from such behavior.

“Fiduciary duty” is a term used to describe professional relationships that involve disparities of power and authority, such as therapist-patient, attorney-client and professor-student.

Most professions forbid sexual relationships between professionals and their clients, particularly in situations where vulnerability is an issue. For example, divorce lawyers are forbidden to have sex with clients, and a sexual relationship between a therapist and a patient is automatically considered abusive by the law. This arises out of an assumption that in each case, the professional holds a position of power over the emotionally vulnerable client.

The same might be thought to be true of rabbis, but the judges decided that it is not so clear-cut.

According to the decision, the relationship between rabbis and congregants, even one that includes “aspects of counseling,” does not automatically create a power differential of the sort that characterizes a fiduciary duty. To prove that duty, a congregant has to demonstrate that he or she became “uniquely vulnerable and incapable of self-protection regarding the matter at issue.”

Tendler has been the focus of allegations of sexual misconduct for several years. Complaints that he allegedly had sexually harassed a number of women surfaced in 2003 and were taken up for investigation in 2004 by the Rabbinical Council of America, the main organization of Orthodox rabbis. In March 2005, the RCA barred Tendler from the organization as a result of the investigation. In December 2005, (NAME REMOVED) filed a civil suit against Tendler on a number of causes, including fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and infliction of emotional distress for coercing her into a sexual relationship. The recent Court of Appeals decision dismissed the last of those complaints.

Tendler was suspended from the pulpit of Kehillat New Hempstead in February 2006. A New York State appellate court ruled on June 3 that Tendler’s dismissal from his pulpit was in violation of his contract.

(NAME REMOVED) alleged that she had gone to Tendler, who was then her rabbi, for counseling about her frustration at failing to find a husband. She claimed that Tendler had proposed a course of “sexual therapy” to manipulate her into having a sexual relationship with him, thus abusing his position as a “counselor, adviser and therapist.” (NAME REMOVED) was seeking damages from both Tendler and Kehillat New Hempstead.

The court ruled that she had not established that Tendler’s position amounted to a fiduciary relationship.

Lawyers familiar with clergy related legal issues say that in cases where clergy have abused children, such as the priest sex abuse scandal that shook the Catholic world, the legal strictures are relatively clear. But they say that the boundaries between clergy and adults are less clear, as courts try to balance the rights of consenting adults against the unique power and prestige of the clergy.

“The mere status one has as a member of the clergy and as a member of a congregation doesn’t automatically establish a fiduciary relationship,” said Mark Chopko, former general counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

One reason that the law on this front is not fully settled is that these lawsuits against clergy are a relatively recent phenomenon.

“People never sued churches, synagogues or their religious leaders; it was part of the social contract at the time,” Chopko said. “You may find a handful of historical examples that go back 50 or 100 years, but for the most part, the body of law has grown up over the last 15 to 20 years.”

In recent cases, some lawyers have argued the line that the judges took in the Tendler case, namely that clergy-congregant relationships are not automatically ones with a power differential.

But other legal experts have said that the courts should recognize a clergy member’s special status, because of his or her spiritual position.

“The clergy-congregant relationship has a higher dimension of trust, because clergy have what they call ‘reverential deference.’ Because they are revered and make a claim to divinity in various forms, they enjoy a particular position of special trust,” said Jeffrey Anderson, a St. Paul, Minn., attorney who specializes in cases of clerical abuse.

In the Tendler case, (NAME REMOVED) hinted at the spiritual status of Tendler when she claimed that he told her he “talks to God all the time” and was “the messiah.” Her suit, however, steered clear of delving into the religious entanglements — territory, the judges noted, that is fraught with constitutional complications about the separation of church and state. Instead, her case focused on the counseling relationship.

The judges, however, ruled that (NAME REMOVED) had simply participated in “an extended voluntary sexual affair between consenting adults.”

Rabbis unrelated to the case said that the legal ambiguities surrounding the clergy-congregant relationship reflect the ambiguities inherent in the relations. Rabbi David Ackerman, a longtime pulpit rabbi who now works at the Jewish Theological Seminary, said he knew of several instances where rabbis married congregants. But, he said, it can be dangerous territory to tread.

“That risk is ever-present,” Ackerman said. “The rabbi has an obligation to keep a close eye on the… power balance, because there’s tremendous potential for abuse.”

Rabbi Gershon Winkler added to The Awareness Center's web page

From The Awareness Center's web page

Case Rabbi Gershon Winkler

Thousand Oak, CA

Walking Stick Foundation - Cuba, New Mexico

The Awareness Center wants to stress -- to the best of our knowledge there have never been any allegations made against Rabbi Gershon Winkler of molesting children or sexually abusing or assaulting any adult women. Rabbi Gershon Winkler is being posted on our web page under the category of "Other".

July 8, 2008 -- JTA published the article " Rabbi fights sexual allegations", which is about "defrocked" rabbi, Mordechai Gafni's most recent attempt at becoming a "spiritual leader". In the article Gershon Winkler "acknowledged that he fathered a child with a student, carried on several "intimate relationships" with students over the years and said he is currently in a relationship with two women."

Winkler went on to tell "JTA that he believes it is wrong to insist on an "across-the-board" ban on sexual relationships involving rabbis and followers, teachers and students, and counselors and patients."

According to the ethical codes of every rabbinical organization and also clergy of all major religions, it is considered unethical to have sexual relations with an individual in which there is an imbalance of power. The same can be said about the eithical codes of teachers, medical and mental health professionals.

Rabbi Gershon Winkler has been accused of cult like practices.

For a list of attorney's that have experience with cases of child sexual abuse, clergy sexual abuse and or professional sexual misconduct: click here

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ramblings of "Rabbi" Mordechai Gafni in Dialogue with Luke Ford

Below is a series of audio recordings of Luke Ford interviewing Marc Gafni.

FYI: "Rabbi" Mordechai Gafni confessed to having "sexual relations" with a thirteen-year-old girl back in the 1980's. In 2006 he confessed to clergy sexual abuse of adult women in Israel. After his confession he came back to the United States and has been hiding out in Salt Lake City, UT ever since.

#1 Agreement of the Interview - "Circle of Integrity"

#2 The Will of G-d and Working on Ourselves

#3 Gafni and Luke on Relationships and Sex Crimes

#4 Gafni: "On My Name"

#5 Gafni "When News Becomes Ratings"

#6 Gafni Analyzing Luke's Motives

#7 Gafni's Book - "Spiritually Incorrect"

#8 Gafni on Men and Women

#9 Great Loves - PAG ("Parents Against Gafni")

#10 Women and Sex

#11 Gary Rosenblatt and an Unnamed Rabbi - Gafni: "Not A Part of the good old boys Network (the YU Crowd)". . . "These guys want to take me down". . . "never had relations with 13-year-old girl".

#12 Gafni Describes "Love Relationships", Both minor females described as sexual abuse.

#13 Rape According to Gafni: Sexual McCarthyism v. Sexual Mistakes. Perhaps Marc Gafni can tell us where he gets the funds to hire the best attorneys?

#14 Gafni on Blogs and the Internet

Saturday, July 05, 2008

What Does The Dalli Lama and Luke Ford Have In Common?

What Does The Dalli Lama and Luke Ford Have In Common?
Answer: Photo opts with Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (AKA: Marc Gafni)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Luke Ford on Rabbis Saul Berman and Marc Gafni

Dear Rabbis Saul Berman, Joseph Telushkin and the rest of your gang. . .

Don't you think it's about time you apologized to all of the women who have been sexually victimized by Rabbi Marc Gafni? They have been waiting a very long time for a phone call and a written statement from you. While you're at it you should also apologize to Rabbi Yosef Blau, Jewish Whistleblower Luke Ford and Vicki Polin.