SYDNEY – A former Chabad-Lubavitch youth leader in Melbourne accused of child sex crimes has been found dead in a suspected suicide on Thursday, triggering acrimonious accusations that “community vigilantes,” “thugs” and those who conducted “trial by media” have “blood on their hands.”
- Sex Scandals Shock Australia's Jews
- Aussie Chabadnik Cleared in Abuse Case
- Chabad Youth Leader Dead in Apparent Suicide
The body of Aron “Ezzy” Kestecher, 28, was found in his apartment on Thursday.
Kestecher was accused of multiple allegations of child sex abuse against minors and was due to face court in June, police confirmed on Friday.
Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant visited family and friends on Thursday. “I provided a measure of support and comfort to his family members and his close friends, as well as the first responders to this most tragic of events.”
He added: “The deceased was a very special young man … He was a kind person with very special attributes, but he was also deeply troubled.”
His body is still with the coroner and therefore no funeral details could be confirmed.
David Werdiger, a grandson of one of the founders of Chabad in Melbourne, published a post about the “terrible tragedy” on Facebook on Thursday. Without mentioning Kestecher by name, he took aim at those he claimed may have encouraged his death.
“Those who helped publicize said alleged sins, who facilitated or conducted trial by media, who acted in a heavy-handed way without thinking about the many possible consequences (or who ignored the obvious consequences following their actions) need to consider to what extent their ‘actions’ contributed to this terrible outcome,” he wrote.
“This person’s blood is on the hands of supposed community ‘leaders'," Jacqueline Rozenfeld posted in response, "those with agendas of self-promotion, authorities who failed to protect the person and those who are still at large who will delight in this news.”
She added: “The hell he had to endure thanks to loose tongues, consistent bullying by members of the community and thugs alike would fell the toughest of people let alone someone with his gentleness and sensitivity.”
Four charges of indecent acts by Kestecher against minors were withdrawn in 2012. But other alleged victims came forward last year with one claim of indecent acts with a child, resulting in Kestecher’s arrest and the beginning of legal proceedings.
He was also understood to have been a casual teacher at Yeshivah College, which has been at the center of the child sex abuse scandal inside Melbourne’s Jewish community. Two of its former employees – David Kramer and David Cyprys – were jailed last year for multiple sex crimes against more than a dozen children.
Michelle Coleman, the wife of David Cyprys, a former security guard at Yeshivah College, fired a salvo at “community vigilantes who believe it is their role to be judge, jury and executioner.”
On Werdiger’s Facebook page, she wrote on Friday: “It’s tragic though that it has taken a death for people to realize how hurtful and unhelpful it is to shun those who have done wrong/been accused of wrongdoing.
“In real terms, does this mean that my husband and family will no longer be shunned when he comes out of jail? Will the shul that refused to hold my son's bar mitzvah apologize … Will people remember the countless hours my husband put in to protect the community? Or does he have to die first?”
Kestecher is survived by his parents, Rabbi Moshe and Yael Kestecher of London. Two of his siblings, Chana Wenger and Miriam Yarmush, are sitting shiva in Montreal, Canada, according to crownheights.info.