Sex abuse cases are about children, not religion: Editorial
on May 14, 2013 at 1:36 PM, updated May 14, 2013 at 1:50 PM
From the link: http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2013/05/sex_abuse_cases_are_about_chil.html
The conviction of Yosef Kolko in Ocean County is another painful reminder that the scourge of child sex abuse – and the inexcusable failure of adults to do all they can to protect the victims – is not limited to the Catholic Church.
We saw in the Jerry Sandusky case that Penn State University tolerated the rape of children, keeping it hidden to avoid embarrassing the institution. And with the conviction of Kolko this week, we see the same sickening pattern in the Orthodox community of Lakewood.
This is a scourge wherever it occurs. And while it is gratifying to know that Kolko will likely spend many years in jail, it is disturbing that Orthodox leaders in Lakewood failed to respond when the father, himself a rabbi, sought their help.
Instead, the victim and his family were ostracized in Lakewood when they went to prosecutors in frustration. A flier was circulated in the town’s large Orthodox Jewish community claimed the victim’s father had made a mockery of the Torah and committed a “terrible deed” by going to prosecutors.
The answer in every case of suspected child abuse is to report the facts to the authorities, and allow prosecutors to investigate, no matter how embarrassing that might be. The Catholic Church has failed that test many times over, as did Penn State and the Orthodox leaders in Lakewood.
The result is not just that justice was delayed or denied for victims. It’s worse than that. It also puts other children at risk. Because when an adult is driven to sexually abuse a child, it usually doesn’t stop after one victim. It goes on until someone puts a stop to it.
Newark Archbishop John Myers is facing calls for his resignation, from this paper and from several prominent Catholic politicians in the state. A special wrinkle in his case is that he signed a legally binding agreement to keep an abusive priest, Michael Fugee, away from children. The Star-Ledger’s Mark Mueller documented that the agreement was broken, and that Fugee went on youth retreats, and ministered to children repeatedly, including taking their confessions.
The Jewish faith is not as hierarchical, so responsibility is not quite as clear. But any leaders, religious or civic, who tolerate abuse of children, should step down after apologizing to their followers.
This is not about religion. This is about crimes committed against children. It can’t be tolerated