Failure to protect the vulnerable is a violation of the following verse: Thou shalt notstand idly by the blood of your neighbor (Lev. 19:16) -- "Whoever desecrates the name of Heaven in private will ultimately be punished in public, whether the desecration was committed unintentionally or intentionally." Any conspiracy to conceal information about sex crimes will ultimately be made public, creating an even greater hillul Hashem. -- Despite historic debates and arguments, the consensus of contemporary Jewish religious authorities is that such reporting is religiously mandatory. (Rabbi Mark Dratch).
Background History on the case of Yisroel Shapiro
The Awareness Center
May 28, 2003
May 28, 2003 -- The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) maintains that reporting acts or suspicions of child abuse is not mesirah and commits itself and its members to reporting acts or suspicions of child abuse as required by civil law. Unfortunately the rabbis of Baltimore have never adopted these policies.
One of the many traditions in the orthodox community of Baltimore is not to report sex crimes to law enforcement or Child Protective Services (CPS). The reason was for fear that doing so would start another pogrom (persecution of the Jewish people).
Instead the custom has been for rabbis to handle things quietly and discreetly. It's also not uncommon for signs to be posted by concerned community members warning others of the dangers the alleged sex offender poses to children.
This is exactly what happened a few years ago. Allegations were made that a teacher by the name of Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro had molested children. The pious rabbis of Baltimore decided they could handle the "situation" on their own. A decision was reached. The rabbis at the bet din of Baltimore (Jewish religious court) believed Yisroel was guilty. The agreement was that Yisroel Shapiro would have a career where he no longer had contact with children. Yisroel Shapiro went from being a teacher at one of Balitmore's private Jewish schools to becoming a butcher.
Israel Shapiro is married and had children living in his home. Child Protection Services (CPS) was never notified, nor was a police report made, making it virtually impossible for there to be an official investigation, possible arrest and or trial. Without the proper law enforcement officials being notifide, it makes it impossible for Yisroel Shapiro ever being listed on the national sex offender registry.
As a reaction, a small group of concerned citizens created flyer's and posted signs in the community in hopes of preventing another child from being molested, yet not much has happened since then.
One of the issues that we all need to be aware of is the fact that Yisroel Shapiro's father was a prominent orthodox rabbi in Baltimore. Besides being a synagogue rabbi, his father was the principal of a the Talmudic Academy of Baltimore. His father was connected to may other prominent orthodox rabbis in Baltimore and worldwide. Recently one of Baltimore's deep dark secrets was made public. Yisroel Shapiro's father, also had a problem with his "urges". Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro had been allegedly molesting boys for over fifty years. One survivor stated he was sure thate Ephraim Shapiro molested hundreds if not thousands of bar mitzvah age boys.
The way the ultra-orthodox rabbis of Baltimore operate is very similar to the way the Catholic church deals with allegations of clergy sexual abuse. It appears the rabbis do what they can to silence the victims. It also seems as if they rabbis are more concerned with protecting their own personal images and assets, then they are in keeping the Jewish children of Baltimore safe.
Can you imagine the PR nightmare the rabbis of Baltimore were faced with? How would they do damage control?
Many survivors of Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro have stated that they were sure the rabbis of Baltimore were very aware of that he was an "alleged" child molester. A few years ago the rabbis were faced with the fact that the son of this prominent rabbi, was also allegedly molesting children. Instead of doing the right thing and notifing the police and child protective services, they chose to handle the matter on their own.
Keep in mind that Yisroel Shapiro's brothers also hold very prominent positions in Baltimore and around the country. The tradition has always been to protect family members of sex offenders over protecting family members of sexually abused children. As a community we need to understand that family members of both offenders and those who have been sexually violated need support. They are not responsible for the actions of the offender, except if they willingly cover up these crimes -- which could lead to more children being abused. The problem is that all parties involved need counseling. Sex offenders need to be held accountable for their crimes and can receive treatment in prison and often will need residential treatment after they are released. Survivors of sex crimes need both rape victim advocacy and counseling.
It's unknown at this time if the children who were allegedly victimized by Yisroel Shapiro ever received rape crisis counseling. It is also unknown if Yisroel Shapiro ever received sex offender treatment by a qualified mental health provider.
There is no statute of limitations on crimes against children. It's not to late to file a police report and have him investigation. If you or someone you know was victimized by Yisroel Shapiro please contact your local rape crisis center. They are there to protect your rights and can help you make a police report. Rape crisis center's offer free rape counseling and legal advocacy.
If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected in the state of Maryland, you should call: (800) 332-6347