Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wayward clergy by the numbers: Is it rampant or an aberration?

Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.

Wayward clergy by the numbers: Is it rampant or an aberration?

By Eugene L. Meyer and Richard Greenberg
JTA - January 10, 2006

How extensive is the problem of clergy sex abuse in the Jewish community?
It depends which criteria are used as a yardstick.

One possible gauge is the volume of abuse complaints that have been adjudicated by the ethics panels of the major religious denominations.

Judging by the tiny caseload, the problem appears to be negligible
unless, of course, wrongdoing by rabbis and other clergymen is underreported, as some observers maintain.

Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive vice president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, counted three or four investigations into rabbinic sexual misconduct since the 300-member organization adopted a new code of ethics in 1999. The code is again being revised.

Hirsh would identify neither the transgressions nor the transgressors.

"We´re not allowed to discuss any details," he explained, although in one instance, he added, the association´s ethics committee merely admonished the accused rabbi to "be careful next time."

Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Conservative movement´s 1,600-member Rabbinical Assembly, said in the 17 years he has held his current post, only three rabbis have been asked to leave the R.A. or left on their own due to "inappropriate behavior" of a sexual nature. This year, one rabbi was expelled.

In addition, the R.A. insisted that "several" other rabbis found to have engaged in "seductive behavior" undergo therapy.

Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, a primarily modern Orthodoxy organization, said the RCA has ruled on so few sexual misconduct complaints over the past 10 years that the number is not statistically significant.

The Union for Reform Judaism, which has 900 member congregations, sees no "particular need" to keep records on the numbers or dispositions of sexual misconduct cases, according to its president, Rabbi Eric Yoffie.

"I don´t happen to believe there´s any evidence of an epidemic of rabbinic sexual abuse," Yoffie said. "If you are asking, am I aware of there being some significant numbers of people, my answer is no. We have to keep it in perspective."

The Awareness Center, a controversial Baltimore-based Jewish clearinghouse of clergy sex abuse information, lists on its Web site scores of Jewish clergy who are alleged to be sexual predators. Some of them have been convicted of crimes, but some have not even been charged.

Although authoritative statistics quantifying the problem appear to be nonexistent, "some experts" estimate that "between 18 and 39 percent of Jewish clergy are involved in sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and/or sexual misconduct
the same percentage as non-Jewish clergy," according to the 2002 book "Sex, Lies, and Rabbis: Breaking a Sacred Trust" written by psychotherapist Charlotte Rolnick Schwab.

"All denominations are involved," Schwab wrote.

In her book, she said quantitative data were drawn in part from a conversation with the Rev. Marie Fortune, director of the FaithTrust Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that fights sexual and domestic violence.

Schwab in her book added: "The large number of cases I, alone, have in my files bears out this estimate."

Contacted later, Fortune said: "To my knowledge there are no definitive statistics in any of our faith groups that quantify the problem, and what we have instead are anecdotes and in some places numbers of complaints brought in that particular jurisdiction."

Fortune said her "best guess, based on anecdote and experience," is that 10-15 percent of all clergy have been involved in some form of sexual impropriety.


Anonymous Regarding Schwab said...

Jewish Survivors Blog
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
WARNING: Dr. Charlotte Schwab and The Schwab Institute

It appears that Charlotte Schwab is contacting everyone who has an e-mail address who identifies themselves as a Jewish Survivor of Sexual Violence.

I've gone to Schwab's web page and found that she does not have a degree in counseling or psychology. She claims to have a doctorate in social psychology which is NOT a clinical degree. Dr. Charlotte Schwab is NOT a licensed mental health professional.

If you are looking for a therapist and need help, some of the information here might be useful.

FYI: to legally state you are a counselor you need to have a degree in a clinical field and be licensed as counselor. Charlotte Schwab does NOT fit this criteria!

When I sent a request to be removed from her mailing list I received the following note:

Are you sure you want to be removed? I am a survivor and counselor and advocate for survivors pro bono all over the country. My book, Sex, Lies, and Rabbis: Breaking a Sacred Trust has helped countless victims/survivors. You may read about my work and my book on my web site:

I sent the following note:

"I do not want to be on your mailing list. you state you are a counselor. I looked at your site and you are not licensed. I don't like people who falsely represent themselves like that."

Charlotte Scwab Responded:

Counselors do not have to be licensed. I practiced psychotherapy in Manhattan for 25 years. You sound like a very judgemental, uninformed person. It is tragic that you are so closed.

You are removed (from her mailing list).

According to Schwab's web page:

Education and Training

University of Michigan, BA Education, English, and Psychology
New York University, MPA Organization and Management

New York University, Ph.D. (NOT A CLINICAL DEGREE) Interdisciplinary Degree, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: Organization and Management, Urban Affairs, Politics, Behavior, Sociology.

Dr. Charlotte Rolnick Schwab, a psychotherapist for over twenty-five years and a former professor of social psychology, has spent most of her professional life in the New York Metropolitan Area, practicing in Manhattan and Connecticut. She now lives and practices in Delray Beach, Florida.

In addition to working in private practice, Dr. Schwab was a professor of Social Psychology, Women's Studies and Social Work at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY). She is also a noted lecturer, seminar and workshop leader who specializes in helping women and men to communicate and negotiate effectively and to create healthy, successful personal and business relationships.

Dr. Schwab maintained a successful psychotherapy practice, and was a coach, mentor, and human resources development consultant in Manhattan for over 25 years. She is a noted public speaker, workshop and seminar leader for both private and public venues, including corporations, and non-profit organizations, and she appears on television and radio.

January 12, 2007 8:34 PM  

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