By Richard Baker
Some of Australia’s most senior orthodox Jewish leaders are under investigation for allegedly failing to report multiple instances of child sexual abuse.
The Sunday Age has obtained witness statements and tape recordings from this month’s successful prosecution of a former Bondi Yeshiva authority figure, Daniel Hayman, that indicate senior Jewish leaders failed to act on complaints of abuse and cast doubt over their public statements on the scandal.
The documents and recordings provide an insight into strongly held views within segments of Australia’s ultra-orthodox Jewish communities that child sexual abuse should not be reported to secular authorities.
New South Wales police and the NSW Ombudsman are examining whether senior Rabbis broke the law by failing to report incidents of alleged child sexual abuse at Bondi’s Yeshiva centre to authorities.
Similar investigations are taking place in Melbourne into the failure by leaders of St Kilda’s Yeshiva college to act on allegations of abuse by two former employees who were recently jailed for sexual abuse offences against students.
Under the NSW Ombudsman Act 1974, it is an offence for the leaders of a government and non-government agency to fail to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the Ombudsman. The head of an agency must also implement policies to ensure employees report alleged abuse. Institutions such as Catholic schools and the Yeshiva Centre are bound by that legislation.
A NSW police spokesman confirmed that detectives from Strike Force Bungo have been liaising with the NSW Ombudsman’s investigators “regarding whether there may have been a failure to report incidents of abuse to the Ombudsman”.
The spokesman said detectives had not identified sufficient evidence to take the matter to court but were continuing their inquiries.
Documents and tape recordings obtained by Fairfax Media reveal that three senior Sydney rabbinical figures were allegedly told of Hayman’s offending by victims during the 1980s. But none contacted police.
Instead, Hayman was sent to the United States only to return to indecently assault a 14-year-old boy and allegedly molest a 12-year-old girl.
Hayman, 50, this month received a 19-month suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated indecent assault of a 14-year-old boy at a youth camp in the late 1980s. Hayman was 24 at the time of the offence and working at the Yeshiva-run camp.
Magistrate David Williams said he had to sentence Hayman by applying laws relevant to the time of his offending, adding that Hayman would have been jailed if he was tried under contemporary laws.
Mr Williams also had to acquit Hayman of an indecent assault offence against a 12-year-old girl because of a legal “oddity”.