Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Letter from a parent in Baltimore regarding the program on sexual abuse put together by the vaad

The image “http://www.fotosearch.com/comp/ART/ART182/OBJ060.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The following came from the Awareness Center


Shmuel Juravel / Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro

Letter from a parent in Baltimore
Permission was granted to publish this letter


The case of
Shmuel Zev Juravel is a perfect example of what happens when the rabbis in our community know about an active pedophile and cover up his crimes. Shmuel Juravel, now convicted and serving a sentence of 22 years, reportedly continued to victimize hundreds of boys first in Baltimore and later in Savannah, Georgia, after parents of victims repeatedly reported Juravel's crimes to Rabbis Yaakov Hopfer and Moshe Heinneman. We have learned the hard way that surveillance by rabbis is not a viable option.

It is incredibly sad that Shmuel Juravel's crimes were only stopped after decades of him sexually victimizing children, when he was finally caught in an FBI sting operation, after he answered an ad soliciting relations with boys in Alabama.

According to the
Bureau of Missing and Exploited Children only three percent of pedophiles ever get caught. As parents and community members we all need to be concerned about all the other sex offenders who are protected by our rabbis and living under the radar in our community. At this time we cannot trust our rabbis to keep us safe.

Think about it, what kind of
surveillance did the rabbis use years ago when Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, past principal of TA, victimized hundreds of students for decades. Can we believe the rabbonim back then had no idea that Ephraim Shapiro was committing sex crimes against our children?

And more recently: Didn't the rabbis sign a letter last April (2007) stating that they had made mistakes in the past and that they were now encouraging victims to go to our public authorities? What happened to that stance? Why did they go against their own words at this community gathering last week? Didn't the letter state that the Gedolei Ha Dor encourage us to report these crimes to the police? Why the double-talk now?


7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone suing these rabbis for their complicity in these crimes?

I think the term is "callous disregard."

February 27, 2008 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all survivors should be calling the law firm of Jeff Anderson and Associates. A good contact person at that firm is Pat Noaker.

(651) 227-9990
http://www.andersonadvocates.com/sexualabuse.aspx

Most of Patrick’s work involves representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Patrick has been a trial lawyer for seventeen years. Patrick has handled over 300 childhood sexual abuse cases in state, federal and tribal courts across the nation. In fact, Patrick was the first attorney in the country to file a civil childhood sexual abuse lawsuit against a diocese and priest in Navajo tribal court. Part of Patrick’s practice involves working with persons from different cultures. Understanding a client’s cultural background is critical to successfully pursuing a childhood sexual abuse lawsuit because clients from different cultures have different needs when recovering from the abuse.

February 27, 2008 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another good attorney for survivors of sexual abuse is Rachel Steamer.

646-734-3346

February 27, 2008 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Vicki Polin said...

According to the following articles all adults over the age of 18 are mandated reporters in the state of Maryland.

This basically means if you SUSPECT a child is being abuse and or neglected, you are required to report it to the child protection hot-line. The key word is suspect -- you don't have to prove it.
------------
www.baltimoresun.www.baltiwww.baltimoresunwww.baltiwww.baltimorewww.baltimwww.b
baltimoresun.bal
Child abuse watchdogs
February 26, 2008

Many lawmakers want to get tougher on people who are required by law to report possible child abuse and neglect. Last week the Senate passed a bill that would impose criminal penalties for failing to report.

Although the sentiment is understandable, it may be more important to increase training so that workers responsible for children and families in the child welfare system and their mandated helpers can do their jobs effectively.

Maryland is one of about 18 states that requires everyone to report suspected child abuse, according to a legislative audit. But professionals such as police officers, certain health and human service workers, teachers and medical examiners have a higher responsibility to inform appropriate authorities, although there is no legal penalty for failing to do so. An obvious or egregious case of failure to report might result in disciplinary action or the loss of a professional license, but outside the realm of child welfare workers dealing with cases, those sanctions are extremely rare. The proposed legislation would add parole and probation agents to the list of mandated reporters, and it would make failing to report a misdemeanor subject to a maximum $1,000 fine. Passing such a law would certainly put Maryland in line with the majority of states that impose penalties, mostly misdemeanors, on those who are required to report. It may make sense to subject mandated reporters in Maryland to more serious penalties, but a fine may be sufficient.

Of course, the legislative effort to impose harsher penalties is being revived after the tragic death of 2-year-old Bryanna Harris, whose mother has been charged with killing her. But it's unclear that harsher penalties on mandated reporting would have saved a toddler such as Bryanna, since her contacts outside the child welfare system were sporadic.

Several child welfare professionals involved with Bryanna and her family have already been disciplined or fired. They might have benefited from lighter caseloads, more focused training and better supervision. Other cases involving signs of abuse missed by teachers or other professionals might have been helped by increased training or similar measures.

A death or lapse within the child welfare system presents many opportunities to improve policies. There should be consequences when mandated reporters shirk their duty.

But before imposing criminal penalties, it would be better to impress upon them the important responsibility they have and the lives they can improve or save. The troubled children they encounter must be able to rely on their consistent diligence.


Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun

============ ======== ======== =====

www.baltimoresun.www.baltiwww.baltimoresuwww.baltimoresunwww.baltimoreswww.b
baltimoresun.bal
Abuse-reporting bill OK'd
Failure to notify authorities in suspected cases would be crime
By Laura Smitherman
Sun reporter
February 23, 2008

The Senate approved yesterday a bill making it a crime for health care workers, police officers, educators and others to fail to report suspected child abuse to authorities, a measure that some fear would make those professionals scapegoats.

The chamber voted 35 to 10 to approve the proposal, which would make failure to report abuse a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $1,000. Similar legislation has failed in previous years, but proponents said recent high-profile cases such as the death last year of 2-year-old Bryanna Harris in The cham might spur more lawmakers to support the bill this year.

"Why not err on the side of children because injury and death are the results if we fail to report," said Sen. "Why not err on Bal Democrat who sponsored the bill.

But several lawmakers said they have heard from teachers and doctors who are concerned that the bill could unfairly put them in legal jeopardy or cause them to report every child injury as possible abuse, inundating strapped caseworkers at local departments of social services.

"Teachers are required to do so much nowadays in terms of their responsibilities, "Teachers a "Teachers are requir, a Baltimore Democrat who opposed the bill. "I do understand the intent of the legislation because we do have so many problems. But I have a feeling that the cure in this particular instance goes a bit too far."

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia impose penalties on people who are required to report suspected abuse or neglect but knowingly or willfully fail to do so, according to a legislative analysis.

Thirty-eight of those states make it a misdemeanor, and some, including Thirty- and the District of Columbia, allow for jail time upon conviction.

Under current Maryland law, some professionals, such as nurses, doctors and social workers must report abuse or face possible sanctions from licensing boards.

The bill not only expands the list of those who are required to report to include parole and probation officers, but also adds the criminal penalty.

Attorneys and clergy are generally exempt from reporting requirements if they become aware of abuse through privileged, or confidential, communications that they can't be legally compelled to divulge.

MedChi, a professional society for doctors, and the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged lawmakers to reject the proposal. They argued that physicians already face the loss of their licenses for failing to report suspected abuse. Further penalties would be "superfluous and unnecessary, MedChi, a professional society for doctors, an

"They are not criminals when they miss something," said Sen. Bobby A. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat.

The state's public defender's office also weighed in against the bill, saying it would increase the number of false reports and expose children and their families to "needless embarrassment and potential separation," according to written testimony.

A similar bill passed the Senate in 2003 but died in the House of Delegates. It was introduced the next two years but floundered in committee.

This year, House Speaker This year, Hous said the bill is likely to get a favorable reception in his chamber, depending on how the legislation is written. Busch said there should be a process whereby professionals are made aware of their obligations and the consequences for not fulfilling them.

"It's important for people to be held responsible and accountable, "It's important for people to be held

The state's system for protecting vulnerable children has come under scrutiny since Bryanna Harris' death in June from methadone poisoning. Child-protective workers allowed her to stay with her drug-addicted mother, who has been charged with murder.

A recent report from the Baltimore City Health Department found that a nurse who worked closely with the Harris family did not observe physical abuse, nor did the nurse identify any imminent life-threatening risk.

Lawmakers also invoked the case of Shamir Hudson, 8, who was beaten to death by his adoptive mother in their mobile home outside Berlin in 1998. Social workers in that case had repeated reports of abuse but never removed him the home.

During debate over whether new legislation is needed, Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton, a Charles County Democrat, noted that the chamber voted Thursday to approve a bill to increase penalties for people who attend illegal dogfights and cockfights to as much as one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

"We're talking about abuse of children versus abuse of animals," he said.

laura.smitherman@laura.smith

Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun

============ ======== ======== =======

www.baltimoresun.www.baltiwww.baltimoresuwww.baltimoreswww.baltimwww.b
baltimoresun.bal
From Saturday's Sun
Senate OKs bill making failure to report abuse a crime
By Laura Smitherman
Sun reporter
7:24 PM EST, February 22, 2008
The Maryland Senate approved Friday a bill making it a crime for health care workers, police officers, educators and others to fail to report suspected child abuse to authorities, a measure that some fear would make those professionals scapegoats.

The chamber voted 35 to 10 to approve the proposal, which would make failure to report abuse a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $1,000. Similar legislation has failed in previous years, but proponents said recent high-profile cases such as the death last year of 2-year-old Bryanna Harris in Baltimore might spur more lawmakers to support the bill this year.

"Why not err on the side of children because injury and death are the results if we fail to report," said Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat who sponsored the bill.

But several lawmakers said they have heard from teachers and doctors who are concerned that the bill could unfairly put them in legal jeopardy or cause them to report every child injury as possible abuse, inundating strapped caseworkers at local departments of social services.

"Teachers are required to do so much nowadays in terms of their responsibilities, "Teachers are required to do so much nowadays in terms of their responsibilities," said Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat who opposed the bill. "I do understand the intent of the legislation because we do have so many proble

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia impose penalties on people who are required to report suspected abuse or neglect but knowingly or willfully fail to do so, according to a legislative analysis. Thirty-eight of those states make it a misdemeanor, and some, including Delaware and the District of Columbia, allow for jail time upon conviction.

Under current Maryland law, some professionals such as nurses, doctors and social workers must report abuse or face possible sanctions from licensing boards. The bill not only expands the list of those who are required to report to include parole and probation officers but also adds the criminal penalty.

Attorneys and clergy are generally exempt from reporting requirements if they become aware of abuse through privileged, or confidential, communications that they can't be legally compelled to divulge.

MedChi, a professional society for doctors, and the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged lawmakers to reject the proposal. They argued that physicians already face the loss of their licenses for failing to report suspected abuse. Further penalties would be "super fluous and unnecessary, MedChi, a professional society for doctors, and

"They are not criminals when they miss something," said Sen. Bobby A. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat.

The state's public defender's office also weighed in against the bill, saying it would increase the number of false reports and expose children and their families to "needless embarrassment and potential separation," according to written testimony.

A similar bill passed the Senate in 2003 but died in the House of Delegates. It was introduced the next two years but floundered in committee.

This year, House Speaker Michael E. Busch said the bill is likely to get a favorable reception in his chamber, depending on how the legislation is written. Busch said there should be a process whereby professionals are made aware of their obligations and the consequences for not fulfilling them.

"It's important for people to be held responsible and accountable, "It's important for people to be held

The state's system for protecting vulnerable children has come under scrutiny since Bryanna Harris' death in June from methadone poisoning. Child protective workers allowed her to stay with her drug-addicted mother, who has been charged with murder.

A recent report from the Baltimore City Health Department found that a nurse who worked closely with the Harris family did not observe physical abuse nor did the nurse identify any imminent life-threatening risk.

Lawmakers also invoked the case of Shamir Hudson, 8, who was beaten to death by his adoptive mother in their mobile home outside Berlin in 1998. Social workers in that case had repeated reports of abuse but never removed him the home.

During debate over whether new legislation is needed, Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton, a Charles County Democrat, noted that the chamber voted Thursday to approve bill to increase penalties for people who attend illegal dogfights and cock fights to as much as one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

"We're talking about abuse of children versus abuse of animals," he said.

laura.smitherman@laura.smith

Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun

============ ======== ======== ====

www.baltimoresun.www.baltiwww.baltimwww.baltimoresunwww.baltimoresuwww.b
baltimoresun.bal
Sun Exclusive
Nurse watched over Bryanna
City health worker, Social Services did not communicate
By Lynn Anderson and Greg Garland
Sun reporters
February 13, 2008

A city nurse kept tabs on Bryanna Harris for most of her short life, but during that time the nurse had little or no communication with the agency that protects vulnerable children, A city nu's health commissioner disclosed yesterday.

The nurse tried to keep contact with the family even after Bryanna's second birthday, at which time such visits are typically ended, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. But on eight occasions in the spring of 2007, the nurse could not find anyone at the Harris house. About the same time, Vernice Harris, the toddler's mother, told a Baltimore Department of Social Services caseworker that she needed help with Bryanna.

Social Services did not act, and Bryanna died June 5 from methadone poisoning. Harris, 30, has been charged with murder.

What stands out, Sharfstein said in an interview with The Sun, is that the nurse seemed to be working in "complete isolation" to make sure the toddler and her drug-addicted and mentally ill mother had the help they needed.

"There should have been much better communication between the nurse and Social Services caseworkers the whole time," Sharfstein said. "The nurse could have been an ally who worked with caseworkers, but that doesn't appear to have happened. Our nurse could not recall a specific conversation with the Department of Social Services."

Sharfstein said the tragedy prompted him to work out new means of communicating and collaborating with the Department of Social Services. He is encouraging other organizations that work with at-risk families to take similar steps, and he has sent letters notifying such groups that DSS will be contacting them about how to improve their working relationships.

The nurse, who voiced concerns at Bryanna's birth, found during home visits that she was "doing well," Sharfstein said. The nurse became concerned when Bryanna's great-grandmother left the home in early 2007 but did not "identify any life-threatening risk" to the toddler.

Molly McGrath, chief operating officer for the Department of Social Services, said effective communications between that agency and others who have regular contact with troubled families is key to protecting children from harm.

"In order for [Social Services] to keep kids safe, we have to have more eyes and feet on the ground earlier in children's lives so we can take action before something catastrophic happens -- long before someone has made a hot line call to report a case of abuse," McGrath said.

As a result of discussions between Sharfstein and McGrath, her agency has agreed to assign two staff members to work as liaisons with members of the Health Department's Maternal and Infant Nursing Program. Also, an official with Social Services will attend monthly meetings with members of the city nursing program team to review cases.

And prior to a birth, a nurse who has concerns about the future safety of an infant will be able to alert Social Services so the agency can investigate after being notified of the birth, Sharfstein said.

"We had someone who was doing everything they could to help this family but who was working in isolation," he said. "That requires a response ... to fix the system, so that is why we jumped in there with the Department of Social Services."

Nurses in the city Maternal and Infant Nursing Program, who care for at-risk pregnant women, have not been in the habit of contacting the Department of Social Services, said Sharfstein, in part because they have been let down by the agency in the past. He said nurses complained to him that caseworkers don't call them back or share information about families. Also, some nurses believe that caseworker involvement could make it harder for them to get in to see a family.

"There's no tradition of communication between the two agencies," Sharfstein said. "We're operating in two different worlds."

Bryanna's death has led to policy changes at the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which oversees child welfare programs and the city Department of Social Services. The head of the state agency, Brenda Donald, is backing legislation to step up abuse reporting and prevention. Also, five Social Services staff members have been disciplined or fired as a result of the toddler's death.

Sharfstein has declined to identify the nurse who had contact with the Harris family, but he said the nurse is "devastated" by Bryanna's death. The nurse visited the Harris family 30 times before and after Bryanna's birth, often bringing diapers and formula, Sharfstein said. The nurse also contacted a hospital social worker when Bryanna was born and voiced concerns about the infant's care.

Sharfstein said that the nurse's concerns, which he did not specify, "likely led" to a referral to Social Services. However, the nurse could not recall any specific conversation or communication with a caseworker from the agency.

McGrath said she agrees with Sharfstein's assessment of past lack of communication. She said she and other Social Services staff members plan to meet with Health Department staff and outside groups that work with troubled families.

"They need to know that they can call us and get help if they are concerned about something," McGrath said.

She said that communications between her agency and others, such as city police and schools, have not always been adequate. She said she intends to change that because it requires a network of resources to deal with issues of child abuse and neglect.

Said McGrath: "We are going to stand shoulder to shoulder with [Sharfstein] to make sure we close every gap we can between his program and ours."

February 27, 2008 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter sent out last year was a PR move. They know the story of Ephraim Shapiro was about to come out. But it really had to do with a promise that was made to the survivors of harav Moshe Eisemann. The letter was originally supposed to come out from the administration of Ner Israel (NIRC). They copped out and waiting until the Shapiro story was about to come out and then convinced the vaad to sign the letter instead.

Doesn't the vaad look so pretty now?

February 27, 2008 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm, was curious if the vaad would be considered mandated reporters according to Maryland law? How many of them are considered "educators"?

I think the only way things will ever change is when survivors and their family members feel empowered enough to file civil suits. I hate to say it, but money talks.

February 27, 2008 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Phil Jacobs said...

The "Catholic Conference of Orthodox Rabbis
By Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times Blog - February 29, 2008


It was as controlled an environment as a fish tank. The temperature was right, the filter was working perfectly, there was enough food sprinkled on top for feeding.

Over 500 people don’t just come to a meeting on a freezing February night to hear what the Vaad HaRabbonim wanted them to hear. They, for the most part, ate the “fish food.”

Questions were controlled and filtered.

The man we really all came to hear was ostensibly silenced by a time limitation.

Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, a man who knows of so much community pain and victimization, is given the opportunity to speak…for an inordinately long period of time. He took from the time we could have used to get yet another question in for Dr. Pelcovitz.

So before we start thumping our chests about what a wonderful success story last Wednesday night was, this was opportunity missed.

Hug your kid, make him tougher, call your rabbi. That’s right, keep it in the fish tank, in the filtered water, in the community.

That’s pretty much all you have to know.

A letter from the Vaad went out on April 11 of 2007. Ten months later, we have a meeting. Did it ever occur to anyone why the numbers were so high at this meeting? Was it because we had nothing else to do on a Wednesday night? People are hurting. They need help. Some looked around the room nervously and took note of the friends and neighbors they saw there.

Where were the civil authorities to address us? Molestation is a felony, isn’t it? Who do we call if we suspect something is wrong, a rabbi? Should I call a rabbi if I see a house burning down?
Should I call a rabbi if a kid breaks his arm? Should I call a salesman if I want to learn about Shabbat?

Don’t accept last Wednesday evening. Demand that something better be presented.

Where were the 23 who so “bravely” signed that letter last April 11? I’d say less than half attended. A couple of the rabbis even left early

Maybe we should have a meeting without the rabbis. Maybe we’d feel less inhibited about asking real questions. Rabbis, did you look around the sanctuary last Wednesday? Did it dawn on you that some of these people were perhaps coming because they needed to be saved some how?

A small handful of rabbis showed admirable effort getting a full house last week. You brought the issue to the front, which I give you total credit for.

But we are all still wondering what to do now? Do we wait another 10 months?

The name of the program was “How To Protect Our Children.” An obviously frustrated man sitting near me had his own name for the evening. He simply renamed it a meeting of the “Catholic Conference of Orthodox Rabbis.”

March 02, 2008 10:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home