The Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Melbourne and Sydney is under the spotlight as an Australian Royal Commission into the child sexual abuse scandal began hearings.
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The government-sponsored inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which began in 2013, has allocated two weeks to interrogate victims and officials of the Yeshivah Center in Melbourne and its counterpart in Sydney, as well as senior Orthodox rabbis.
In particular, the commissioners will probe the response by Chabad officials to allegations of sexual abuse by David Kramer and Davis Cyprys, who both were employed by the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s. They were jailed in 2013 for multiple offenses against boys at the Chabad-run school.
In Sydney, the response of rabbis to offenses committed by Daniel “Gug” Hayman in the 1980s also is being investigated. Hayman, who moved to the United States, was convicted but received a suspended sentence in 2014.
Victims and family members testified at the County Court of Victoria this week.
“As a spouse of a victim and whistleblower, I feel hated and isolated in my community,” a woman told the hearing, fighting back tears. “I have lost faith in the leadership of the Jewish community.”
Her husband had been abused by Cyprys and Hayman, she said.
“Well beyond the horrible acts of the perpetrators against my husband that had ripped the rug of security, certainty and innocence out from his childhood, we are being screwed once more by the adolescent self-serving and callous response of the community,” she said.
The hearing, which is being streamed live on the Internet, continues through next week, with senior rabbis expected to be called to testify.