Maccabi Australia Basketball Coach Jailed for Sexual Abuse

Non-Jewish coach sentenced to eight years for sexually abusing four girls over a decade ago; Maccabi Australia vows never to cover up crimes.

Dan Goldberg
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Dan Goldberg

An Australian man who coached a Maccabi basketball team was jailed Wednesday for eight years for sexually abusing four girls over a decade ago.

Shannon Francis, who is not Jewish, was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of five-and-a-half years by County Court of Victoria judge Meryl Sexton.

A suppression order surrounding the case had prevented media from revealing his name or that of Maccabi, arguably the biggest Jewish organization in Australia with some 9,000 members across more than 50 clubs, according to its website.

Earlier this year, Francis, 37, pleaded guilty to four charges of child sex abuse, including one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16.

It is understood at least one incident took place during an overseas trip to America. The incidents date back to 1999 and 2000.

Maccabi Australia president Lisa Borowick said in a statement, Maccabi and its member clubs have never and will never condone or seek to protect their own interests in any case of suspected criminality, especially one involving harm to children. It is our understanding that the officials involved in 2000 acted in full consultation and agreement with the victims and their families.

Manny Waks, founder of Tzedek, an organization for victims and survivors of Jewish child sex abuse in Australia, welcomed the news. It highlights the fact that the scourge of child sexual abuse is not confined to one specific segment of the Jewish community, he said. Just as within the broader society, child sexual abuse is prevalent within the Jewish community.

Two other child sex abuse cases involving Jewish organizations are currently before the courts: one of them is suppressed; the other involves a non-Jewish bus driver who worked at the fervently Orthodox Adass Israel School in Melbourne.

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