The Jewish-owned mainstream media constantly highlights instances of child abuse in the Catholic church, but almost never mentions or reports instances of child abuse and molestation in the Jewish community. Jewish media outlets, written by and for the Jewish community, do report on these cases. One such example was found today over at the Jewish magazine Tablet in an article titled, “Panic in Jerusalem: Parents in a tight-knit neighborhood believe a pedophile ring is terrorizing children. What if it doesn’t exist?” (Also, check out "Nachlaot, where pedophiles roam free," The Times of Israel)
I’d like to present some excerpts of this article, and see where it leads. Here goes:
There was no hint of pedophilia in the community before October 2010. But the Haredi community in Nahlaot now believes that the highly organized ring has been operating secretly for years—possibly generations—and is governed by an elaborate hierarchy. According to community members with whom I’ve spoken over the past year, they believe that a small number of masterminds, including the 70-year-old Vorst, a convert to Judaism who directs Ohel Sarah Imenu, an organization that facilitates Haredi conversions, used formerly abused teenagers and mentally handicapped locals as scouts for the victims. Community members believe that these scouts watched the children and parents from outdoor locations that offered prime vantage points—under the guise of tending gardens, doing calisthenics, or panhandling—and memorized their schedules, recording when the children would be unsupervised. The pedophiles noted the schedules of various homeowners, residents of Nahlaot claim, and they allegedly snuck into dozens of apartments and sheds in the neighborhood in order to abuse the children, who have pointed out these locations to their parents. Many are convinced that there are Christian missionary motivations at play here and that false converts have infiltrated their community. A number of locals told me they believe that the videos and media produced by the pedophile ring are being sold for tens of thousands of dollars or more. […]Now here is where the article gets really… interesting. The author begins to downplay the victims’ testimony, arguing that no physical evidence exists of sexual abuse and introducing the idea that these kids may be making up their allegations entirely. Sound familiar? (See here and here)
By late 2010, dozens of children had told their parents they were abused, and the circle of accused kept growing. The acts reported by the children, nearly all between the ages of 3 and 9, are incredibly horrific and often very bizarre. Virtually none of the allegations involve only one molester and one victim; the children have consistently claimed multiple offenders and multiple victims. There are reports of orgies involving as many as 20 adults and more than a dozen children. There were, allegedly, frequent raping and forced sodomy of children as young as 2 years old. The children claim that various objects—including large branches, semi-automatic rifles, screwdrivers, and other carpenter’s tools—were forcibly stuck up their anuses and other orifices; that knives were held to their throats; that they were told that if they didn’t voluntarily return to be raped, they would be “chopped up into little pieces,” or that their entire families would be murdered. They claim that they were shown, by way of threat, the guns that would be used for this purpose and told that cameras had been installed in their homes to ascertain their silence. The children claim that they were, on various occasions, bound up and beaten, held on top of open flames, lashed with sticks, burned with chemicals, given soft drinks spiked with hallucinogens, and injected with drugs.
The majority of the allegations include reports of video-recording and photography, and the children say they were forced to watch pornographic movies and violent sexual encounters between their abusers. Some children say they were abducted at night from their homes, viciously abused, and returned to their beds. Others say they were abducted from school and then returned. Babysitters were said to be threatened with severe physical punishment or death unless they brought the children in their care to the pedophiles. There are reports of witches, magic doors, secret basements, and large dogs used to intimidate the children. Many allegations include elements of ritual and Christian abuse, including forced prostration and benedictions, sexual acts involving massive iron crosses, and various other forms of foreign worship. Some children say they were taken to a nearby church, where they were abused by priests, as well as other undercover Christians. […]
The police discredited all but nine of the children’s testimonies, deeming them unreliable and unsuitable as evidence, which community members began to see as indicating, alternately, that the police did not take their claims seriously, that there was considerable anti-Haredi bias, that proper personnel was not assigned to the cause, that they stalled and delayed investigations, “lost” paperwork, and did not promptly collect potential evidence. The police repeatedly refused or ignored my requests for comment. […]
What’s absolutely clear is that the children involved believe they were abused. “To date, I have not met anyone who has spoken to the kids who has any doubts that this is true,” Liebowitz, the rabbi, told me. “I know when a child lies,” Steinherz added. “And these children are not lying.” Many in the community believe the children must be telling the truth, if only because they can imagine no other way the children could know about such graphic sexual activity. How else would Haredi children know about such concepts like television and movies, not to mention pornography? The majority of community members I spoke to said the police are corrupt. Steinherz and others claim they have been threatened by accused pedophiles, which they believe further proves their guilt. “It’s all true,” she said of the children’s allegations. “Every single thing is true.” […]
Cases similar to Nahlaot’s, many whose particulars are even more extreme, have occurred frequently in the past, particularly in the 1980s and early 1990s, with as many as 500 or more children reporting horrific and fantastic abuse at the hands of dozens, or even hundreds, of adults. In order to classify and recognize these cases, the FBI’s Kenneth Lanning, who worked in the Behavioral Science Unit from 1981 until 2000, developed a model that describes what he termed “multi-dimensional sex rings.” (This term, Lanning admits, never really caught on; more frequently used is “ritual abuse,” “organized abuse,” or “satanic/sadistic ritual abuse.”) The model delineates four criteria: multiple offenders and multiple victims who are considerably younger than “standard” pedophile victims; the victims are controlled and coerced primarily through fear; the abuse occurs in communities that are insular and ultra-conservative; and at least some of the abuse in question is extreme, grotesque, or incorporates ritualistic aspects.
A study of past cases reveals startling similarities: The accusation always begins with a single complaint and is always parent-driven. The children’s accounts contain fabulous or impossible elements—magic tunnels, bullets that find their target, walls and people that disappear, and so on. The conspiracies being alleged are far-reaching and highly improbable. There are untrained professionals involved driving the investigations. There are nearly always claims of video recording and of being forced to watch porn and adults having sex.
This history is relevant because, to borrow Lanning’s term, a multi-dimensional sex ring has never once been substantiated. Never, despite the enormity of the crimes in question, and despite the numbers of times they’ve been alleged, has any independently corroborated evidence been found. Many of the children who testified in these cases have, as adults, recanted their testimonies, and courts have, over the years, turned over convictions that were based purely on children’s testimonies. In the most famous of these cases—the McMartin preschool trial in California, which ran from 1984 through 1990 and in which more than 350 children claimed they had been abused at their daycare center—every single allegation was thrown out.
Before Noa Klein went to the police, no parents or any adult in Nahlaot had ever made an official complaint to police alleging anything like this. No parent claimed to notice their child came home horrifically abused, beaten, or raped, despite the fact that the abuse allegedly went on for years and is of an extraordinarily violent nature. No child was reported missing. Indeed, up until October 2010, no adult ever noticed anything amiss, despite the tightness of Nahlaot’s layout, and despite the children’s reports that they were herded up in broad daylight. No teacher ever spoke up; nobody noticed a dozen children missing from school for hours at a time, then returned after bouts of violent sexual abuse. Many of the apartments where the acts allegedly took place are immediately adjacent to other homes, but no neighbors ever noticed that anything was amiss. No forensic evidence has been found. No incriminating videos or any sort of media have been discovered, despite computers and hard drives of the accused being seized (or stolen), and despite nearly every alleged act being videotaped or photographed. (In fact, according to Lanning, no media indicating the existence of a multi-dimensional sex ring has ever been found, despite very extensive seizures of child pornography worldwide.) None of this means that instances of abuse did not occur. But the question of whether one or more children were molested has been minimized by the hunt for a massive pedophile ring.
Many in the community see the absence of evidence as proof that the police or the judge are suppressing the evidence. “The only people who have the computers are the police,” one resident told me. “And all the kids say there was video involved, and all the computers have been confiscated, yet they’ve shown us nothing.” Steinherz claims that some of the accused are computer geniuses, and that they’ve encrypted the material so that it can’t be accessed, and that the police have allowed family members of the accused to hide or destroy potential evidence. […]
Did this man do this to you? To a child, this is highly suggestive, especially coming from a panicked parent convinced something has in fact happened. Some children who admitted something had happened to them were given candy or toys. Parents showed their children pictures of suspects and asked if these men had done anything to them. Many children who denied being abused were repeatedly questioned, especially after a suspect’s guilt was seemingly established. A mother, who has requested anonymity, recounted her reaction when told that Sid “Skippy” Marcus had allegedly abused her children: “We asked our kids, and they were like no, no, no, no. And the day Skippy was arrested … I asked my son: Did Skippy ever do anything immodest to you? And he goes like this [nodding].”
Overzealous investigators, which can include parents, therapists, and even other children, can seriously affect a child’s account or even memory of what has happened, especially when those investigators are convinced that the child in question has indeed been abused and it’s their job to get the child to admit it. “Many of these investigations are started by the parents who are not properly investigating,” said Lanning. “They’re just trying to find out what happened to their kid.” And they will not stop until they do so. “A single complaint, whether true or not, can set off a moral panic,” Rabinowitz, the journalist, told me. “Which can quickly get out of control.” […]
But the required logistics of a secret pedophile ring this size—the organization necessary to continually and extensively abuse an entire demographic of a whole neighborhood without being discovered—remains the least credible aspect of the allegations. The difficulty of keeping a conspiracy a secret increases exponentially with each additional member, and with as many as 70 it’s virtually impossible. “You cannot be engaged in this kind of activity for this long and leave behind little or no corroborative evidence,” Lanning said. “The more people involved in a crime, the greater the crime, the greater the likelihood that there’s going to be some kind of corroborative evidence left behind, physical evidence.”
After expressing the findings of my early research, I told Steinherz, the therapist, that I needed corroborative evidence aside from the children’s testimony in order to report that there was indeed a pedophile ring in Nahlaot. The evidence I was ultimately provided or made aware of included: court documentation that strongly suggested police incompetence or corruption; archived web pages that showed that some of the accused had lied about not knowing each other; medical records of various ailments; pictures the children drew; the detailed account of a therapist named Levana Khalili, a witness for the prosecution; and stories of corroboration among the children. None was evidence of a pedophile ring; all was material that reinforced an already assumed narrative. Yet in all my conversations with Steinherz, parents, rabbis, therapists, and community organizers, not once was it acknowledged that these might be the products of a child’s imagination.