New Jersey Sexual Assault Case Highlights Abuse Of Alleged Victims In The Orthodox Jewish Community

220px-Gottlieb-Jews_Praying_in_the_Synagogue_on_Yom_KippurWe have previously discussed the harassment and abuse of families in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods who have accused religious figures of sexual abuse. Like Catholic and other Christian communities, the Jewish community is facing its own scandal over the response to these allegations. This ongoing controversy is at the heart of a case in New Jersey where a leading counselor and Rabbi stands accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy — and members of the Orthodox community are accused of a campaign of harassment against the boy and his family for going to the police.

After the boy went into therapy, he told his father of the alleged abuse that he experienced at a Jewish camp by his counselor, Yosef Kolko. Kolko is a former yeshiva teacher on trial now for the alleged abuse.

Kolko, 39, is accused of abusing the boy at age 11 in 2007 at a religious summer camp in Lakewood. The boy says that the rabbi engaged in molestation and oral sex in various locations including an empty classroom, a storage room, Kolko’s car and the basement of a synagogue.

What is interesting about the case is the reaction of the father and then the community. The father was told by his son that he was sexually abused, but instead of going to the police he went to a group of rabbis to take action even though such rabbis could not imprison him or order corporal punishment. The father waited for months as the rabbis did little. He was also willing to send his kid back to the same camp. It was only after he discovered that Kolko was going to continue his work at the camp that he took additional steps. The father admits that he wanted to leave the matter in the hands of the rabbis and not report to police that his son had been allegedly sexually assaulted. I find that truly extraordinary since any action that the rabbis took would not deprive Kolko of his freedom. It is the ultimate triumph of faith for a father to refuse to go to police even when he believes that his son was raped. Both the father and Kolko went to the home of a prominent Lakewood rabbi. The father wanted the matter submitted to a rabbinical court rather than to inform police of an alleged sexual predator working with children.

The father however said that it was clear that the rabbis had not acted. He then said that he felt he had to act in July 2009. That is two years after the alleged sexual abuse so for two years he allowed someone he believed to be a sexual predator walk around free because he preferred to use rabbinical courts.

After he went to Ocean County prosecutors, however, community members denounced him and posted signs against the family. Even the father still admits reluctance in going to the police, saying “[g]oing to law enforcement is not, at this time, common within the Orthodox Jewish community. Even when it’s necessary it’s considered unusual.”

A flyer in their community denounced them of a “terrible deed” by speaking to non-Jewish officials. We have seen this abuse in other cases in the Orthodox community. However, it is the hold of faith on the father that is most striking to me in this case. To wait two years to speak with police is astonishing for a father who believes that his son was sexually assaulted. It is also interesting to see that no lawsuit has been filed against the Jewish leaders who took no action and also did not report the matter to the police. The similarity to the allegations against the Catholic Church is striking.

As for those responsible for the flyers, I cannot imagine how even profound faith could lead someone to denounce the possible victim of child abuse for simply going to police.

Source: Fox

26 thoughts on “New Jersey Sexual Assault Case Highlights Abuse Of Alleged Victims In The Orthodox Jewish Community

  1. As a Jew who does not and would not follow the Orthodox position this case represents the reason why. The Lakewood Jewish Community could be said to represent the “Right-Wing” of Jewish Orthodoxy, the Haredim. In fervor of religious belief they can be compared to the Southern Baptists and to the Wahabist Muslims. They should properly be classified as “Ultra-Orthodox” since there are Orthodox Movements within Judaism that are not so extreme and where a case like this, where a Jewish Court (Bet Dim) would be consulted rather than the police. My large family (9 siblings each for my Mother’s and Fathers families) was predominantly Orthodox in tradition and while I found that not to my taste, they would be horrified by a case such as this. The rise of this “Haredi” Movement is more recent than its adherents would admit. It is of a piece with most major religions whose reactions to the swift moving changes of these times leaves some people requiring “more certainty” in their lives. Thus the rise of “Fundamentalist” belief and those religious leaders who would take advantage of it and their adherents willingness to cede them power. A sad, bad case. Below are two links to put this in greater perspective for non-Jewish readers.

  2. “Let God be the judge.”

    Yes, let’s wait for the magic sky man to arrest criminals. Why bother having police? Why bother having a criminal justice system? We just need to wait for what? The wanton smiting to begin?

    Religious entitlements are at the core of our problem.

  3. Sounds like the kid is feeling guilty after having the sex feeling compelled to go to the police. Police are guilt givers. Nothing is covered up with God. I would think people would know that. God is interested with the intent of the heart too. I would think religious people would think about that too. We have to know that all through nature sex of all kinds occurs. A person can be driven into insanity trying to control people to engage in only one form of sex all the time. In order to make it to God’s kingdom we have to police ourselves. That is working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. I would think people would have heard that one.

  4. They have mobsters who can be hired to do mean deads which in the end will result in good. Hire some mobsters and arm them with some of those flyers. Have them find a few zealots and cram the rolled up flyers up their rear ends and then photograph same and publish the photos on the exterior walls of the holy place where these schmucks attend their ceremonial doings. As to the perp, have his thing cut off and thoroughly circumcised and then send it to him in a box. One perp in a kid camp is one too many to allow on Earth. Of course if this seems a little stern, its just me a preacher dog of dubious faith talking– or barking into this Dogalogue Machine. I dont mean no harm. Well, I do, when it comes to the perps of the world.

  5. Counselor are required by law to report such accusations…. Get over it and do the right thing……

  6. How about a misprision of felony charge against those religious officials who failed to report the sexual abuse of a child?

    As far as the law is concerned it should not matter if the group of them was religious or a model airplane club, they didn’t report the sexual abuse, they are liable to the law. Religion should not be a get out of jail free card.

  7. What Darren said. Also, those that are demonizing the family should be answerable to charges of harassment.

  8. Mike Spindell 1, May 10, 2013 at 10:46 am

    As a Jew who does not and would not follow the Orthodox position this case represents the reason why. The Lakewood Jewish Community could be said to represent the “Right-Wing” of Jewish Orthodoxy, the Haredim.
    The Hairy Dim wits are giving Bar Mitzvahs a bad name.

  9. Even when it’s necessary it’s considered unusual.”
    Stay away from children.

  10. Going to the police with allegations of child abuse is a requirement of men who have positions of authority in a religious body. They acted with depraved indifference to this child and all the others in the community. This father was wrong, but the MINUTE he spoke to the religious authorities in his state, he should have been able to rest in the knowledge that they would take the correct steps and report as they are required to do by state law.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are still fighting a civil judgement against them for 10s of millions of dollars. When nothing else talks, often money will. Religious orgs need to learn that protecting their reputations by hiding the evil among them isn’t going to impress any one,but protecting children will make them actually look good-because now instead of one man that abused the little boy, there is a whole group of them who participated and were accomplices to that man’s abuse of (probably many more) children.

  11. The KIDS need to get involved and shame these shamless astardBays into some holy orthodoxy which meets with civilized behavior. Occupy Temple Now! Get off your dorks kids.

  12. Mike Spindell making excuses for those of his Jewish brothers who believe that the sexual attack on a child by one of their group should be hidden from the authorities. Oh they are not like the rest of us. They are right wing. They are Ultra Orthodox. They are Fundamentalist.

    We “other” jewish people would never turn a blind eye to child molestation in our group to protect the good name of the Jewish people and the Rabbis that work within the group. Yes right – if you say so because only catholic priests and brothers molest kids.

    This Jewish group- despite their labels- also live in a civilized society and live under and are subject to the same laws as the rest of us whether they are ultra orthordox/fundamentalist or not.

    One wonders what this mis-guided father really thought the senior Rabbis were actually going to do when he reported the crime to them because it should have been blatantly obvious to him that (1) they would most definitely not involve the authorities – which clearly he knew; and (2) that they would sweep it under the carpet and keep the crime hidden to protect the integrity of their institution and group.

    Of course what is even more despicable here is that the Jewish community has sought to denigrate and ostracize a man who did as the law and morality requires him to do and that is to report the serious sexual attack on a young child to the authorities.

    Well at least the father eventually did the right and responsible thing so the accused perpetrator will hopefully be put away where he cannot prey upon and sexually attack any more innocent children. You can bet that this one case was not the only incident that the accused has been nvolved in. Hopefully the belated actions of the father will have prevented other innocent Jewish children from being attacked by the accused.

    In this day and age it is almost beyond belief that those in positions of authority in religious institutions, as in this very current attack, consider that the good name of their institution and group is far more important than the sexual attack on innocent children by one of their group and thus it should be hidden from view and the perpetrator protected. Clearly those in positions of power in this Jewish group considered that to be the best course of action.

    It similarly seems that those Jewish followers that are now denigrating the poor family (that quite rightly reported the sexual attack to the authorities) have the same warped view. Please feel free to molest our Jewish children because if you do we will not ever report you to the authorities and if a member does we will give that member the full isolation and ostracization treatment. You have been warned.

    There was a troubling and very similar case in the UK a few years ago where an Islamic child was sexually attacked on a number of occasions by a senior member of the Mosque who was engaged in religious instruction of children at that local Mosque. The family reported the crime to the UK police and it was followed up in the appropriate way. Then end result was that the family were heavily criticised by those in positions of authority at the Mosque, the family was ostracized ( shunned and isolated) as in this case and it was made known to them that were no longer welcome to participate in prayers or any other activities at their Mosque. They were most definitely persona non grata in the local islamic community and were horrified at the treatment they received for reporting a serious crime perpetrated on their child.

  13. “Mike Spindell making excuses for those of his Jewish brothers who believe that the sexual attack on a child by one of their group should be hidden from the authorities. Oh they are not like the rest of us. They are right wing. They are Ultra Orthodox. They are Fundamentalist.”


    What in hell are you writing about, certainly not the comment I made. Please re-read it and tell me if I was making excuses for this behavior. I was trying to clarify the nature of this particular community, which I personally do not agree with on so many levels. To go from that to thinking I’m saying that in general there are no sexually abusive Jews is frankly ridiculous.

  14. What this case demonstrates is a universal religious truth. There is a segment within every faith that regards secular law as an infringement on its theocratic prerogatives. The consequences are also universal.

  15. Mike Appleton – exactly.

    The failures of mankind are only amplified by the cloak of religion. With the exception of the one true faith, Pastafarianism – all praise be upon His noodly appendages – every religion has some portion of its followers who say and do horrible things and then try to use their cosmic muffin either as an excuse or as a defense. The worst is when they commit atrocities under the delusion that their god approves or requires it. Every one of the major faiths throughout history.

    That civilized people allow this to continue is our shame

  16. I am Jewish and somewhat religious and this stuff makes my blood boil.

    The police and courts are there for a reason. The Kolko case is just one of many. Whenever you have a big group of people you will have predators and sickos in that group. The Rabbis are ill equipped to deal with these predators. Why they feel they should deal with these people is beyond me.

  17. I understand that given the conscious or unconscious anti-religion slant of Mr. Turley and those of this message board that whenever such child molestation stories involving religious groups are publicized, the gut reaction to the religious group’s cover-up response is to blame the religion, or the particular sect of the religion. In this particular case, an Orthodox Jewish Community is the subject group; and in others it may be the Catholic Church; and in still others it may be some Islamic group.

    Whereas everyone here sees the commonality as “religion,” I see the commonality as much broader, “groups” or “institutions” themselves. I think it is a natural human tendency of ALL groups and institutions to have a protectionist response to instances of child molestation that arise.

    Penn State is not a religious institution, but the response of the leaders of that institution to allegations of child molestation was to go into a cover-up mode of action, as the Jerry Sandusky case made all too clear.

    The Boy Scouts of America is not a religious group, yet they too have sought to cover-up cases of child molestation within their group.

    This distinct human tendency can even be observed at the family level of “group.”

    Think about it.

  18. I’m totally dismayed that no one has raised the point that sexual predatory behavior upon children is NEVER A ONE TIME EVENT. Over the span of time that this predator was allowed access by virtue of his position within the group, how many more victims are out there? Time will tell. I have a personal interest in institutional insulation of deviance and the processes through which this occurs. Adding this “event” to my data base. Also want to mention that there is a similar “trend” in institutions of higher education when rape is reported by women to administrative officials. Numerous cases in the news of late in which these victims end up not reporting to law enforcement, with academic officials doing the “sweep it under the rug routine” through their own “investigative process”, solely for the benefit of their “public reputation”. I continue to advise parents who are sending their female kids off to higher education, should they encounter this type of deviant conduct (whether by professor/staff/date, etc), go to the police first to report and then to administrative officials. This helps in avoiding the deviant act itself being “closeted”, bringing perpetrators to Justice.

  19. In very rare circumstances, certain major media shows have addressed such issues as child molestation, and in a surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent manner. One such show was an episode called “The Bicycle Shop,” written by Blake Hunter, for the series “Diff’rent Strokes.” Although this show did not directly address the much more difficult and controversial institutional protectionism issue, as I’ve framed it, the show does effectively depict how predators gain the trust of children and how they help to ensure the silence of their child victims. Most important, the show suggests what children and parents should do under the circumstances. Writer Blake Hunter has clearly done his research here. The casting of veteran comic actor Gordon Jump to play the out-of-character role of the predator was an inspired one, as he was well known to have previously played characters that children already found likeable. Part 1 is shown below, and Part 2 is available at the same site:

  20. Hawkeye, you raise good points, and yes, the underlying human tendency to place institutional protectionism above the rights of the individual is evident in a broad variety of crimes and abuses.

    The core–but heinous–principle that is at work here is as follows:

    The betrayal of the group is socially considered to be a greater sin than the correction or even exposure of a wrong to an individual.

    The Code of Omertà is not limited by any means to The Outfit. Omertà implies “the categorical prohibition of cooperation with state authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime.”

    See Letizia Paoli, Mafia Brotherhoods, p. 109.

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