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.
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.