SYDNEY - Detectives in Australia have closed an investigation into a senior Chabad rabbi who was alleged to have raped a student inside a synagogue in the 1970s. Victoria Police confirmed that no charges have been laid against Rabbi Avrohom Glick, who was then deputy principal of Yeshivah College in Melbourne.
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The closing of the investigation has reopened the bitter debate in Australia between Chabad supporters and advocates for child sex abuse victims.
Glick vehemently denied allegations he raped a student “in front of the Sefer Torah” and forced him to perform oral sex when police questioned him in December. He was released “pending further enquiries” but was stood down from Yeshivah College, where he was on staff. College officials did not confirm this week whether he has been reinstated.
Glick, 67, is in America for a family wedding but his brother, Nathan Glick, told Haaretz on Monday: “His name has been cleared. He’s very happy, and we’re all just happy.”
Chevi Levin, a niece, said justice had triumphed. “Today, Hashem’s help and guidance has set an innocent man free,” she posted on her Facebook page. “Today, community support has warmed our hearts. And today, well, today is the day that Rabbi Glick gets his life back.”
David Werdiger, a relative, was a student at Yeshivah College when the incident was alleged to have been perpetrated, he wrote on a blog on Sunday. “While everything points to this accusation being totally false, unfortunately nothing can ever remove the stain of this accusation from Rabbi Glick.”
Werdiger, a grandson of one of the pioneers of Chabad in Australia, also took aim at Tzedek, the advocacy organization for Jewish victims, which has been accused of fueling the rape allegations.
“At what point does zealous victim activism cross the line to vigilantism and vengeance?” Werdiger asked.
Alex Fein, editor of Galus Australis, a local Jewish blog, wrote on Sunday that there is “a widespread feeling within the religious community” that Manny Waks, the chief executive of Tzedek, should apologize.
“Many orthodox Jews felt that Mr. Waks’s response to the bimah rape case was injudicious and was characteristic of his hostility to the Orthodox community, unfairly tarnishing all religious Jews, even though many were initially very supportive of Mr. Waks and his campaign to expose cover-ups of abuse at Yeshivah College.”
Waks is the only victim in Australia to have gone public with his story, revealing in 2011 that he was molested by two officials at Yeshivah College. “The board of Tzedek has decided that no public statement should be issued regarding this matter,” Waks said on Monday.
The poisonous tenor of the debate here is now the subject of a court case, after lawyers for Rabbi Glick launched a defamation suit against Waks last December, alleging the senior rabbinical figure was defamed in several online comments on the Tzedek website and on Waks’s Facebook page.
His name was “brought into hatred, contempt and ridicule,” according to the statement of claims.
Glick was principal from 1986-2007 when at least two officials at Yeshivah College were molesting children. David Kramer, a teacher, was jailed last year for over three years for crimes against four boys. He was allowed to flee Australia in the early 1990s when Glick was still principal, and later reoffended in America.
David Cyprys, a security guard, was jailed for over five years for molesting eight boys and raping another. He is appealing his rape conviction.
During the trial, Glick changed his testimony under oath, from originally telling police he had only recently heard the allegations to conceding he had in fact known about them in the early 2000s.
The magistrate described it as “unfathomable” that he was unaware of the alleged molestation at the time, while a police detective told the court that college officials had swept Cyprys’s crimes “under the carpet.”
Waks, a former vice president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, wrote in an article on Friday that he could not have “foreseen the extent of the fallout [of going public], including the severity of the backlash against myself and my family.”
Last year Yeshivah College apologized “unreservedly” to the victims. “We employ absolute best practice and prioritize child safety,” its current principal, Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, said. “We also work closely with community agencies and the authorities in order to keep our children safe.”