Ultra-Orthodox children’s author Chaim Walder announced Wednesday that he is stepping back from public life, after a Haaretz investigation revealed testimonies by women alleging Walder sexually abused them as minors. A statement on behalf of Walder said he decided to "take a time out from his public life to fight to clear his name and be with his family."
The board of ultra-orthodox paper Yated Ne’eman, for which Walder wrote a weekly column, debated his continued employment on Wednesday. Haaretz found out the newspaper board had asked Walder to suspend himself or face termination. Walder issued his announcement thereafter.
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Haaretz's investigation, published last weekend in Hebrew, found that the 52-year-old Walder, while maintaining an adored, beloved and accessible image for children and youth, allegedly sexually abused girls for years.
A talk show host and columnist with a focus on social and educational issues, Walder is one of the most prominent children’s advocates in the ultra-Orthodox community, the founder of the Bnei Brak-based Center for the Child and Family and a recipient of the Prime Minister’s “protector of the child” award. He has written 80 books, including numerous volumes of the popular “Kids Speak” series, which are a fixture in ultra-Orthodox households across the country.
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Following the publication of Haaretz’s investigation, ultra-Orthodox radio station Radio Kol Hai dropped Walder’s program.
In a post on its Facebook page, Orthodox children’s magazine "Letters and Children" also announced that it would cease publishing material by Walder and in New York, the ultra-Orthodox Judaica chain Eichlers announced that it would no longer stock his books.