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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sex abuse whistleblower parents 'bullied'

The parents of Jewish community sex abuse whistleblower Manny Waks are leaving Australia, saying they have been bullied, intimidated and virtually ''excommunicated'' from the Orthodox Yeshivah community.

Zephaniah Waks confirmed on Friday that his house is on the market and that he and his wife, Chaya, plan to divide their time between Israel and Melbourne, but outside the Yeshivah community.

They have a wig business in Melbourne.

Their decision comes as another alleged victim of sexual abuse at the Yeshivah Centre has gone to police, saying he was raped when he was eight or nine by a man still associated with the centre. 

Two former employees, David Kramer and David Cyprys, both admitted child sex offences in Melbourne courts this year, and charges have also been brought against a Yeshivah substitute teacher and a former Orthodox youth leader.

The victim told police he was lured to the worship centre with the promise of chocolates and raped ''in front of the Sefer Torah'', the scroll of the Torah, Judaism's sacred text. ''I have a clear memory of the pain and grunting.'' He said he was raped several times and forced to perform oral sex, and that the man abused another victim, too.

"After I was raped I was in shock and I went to the office and I was shivering and crying. I didn't know what rape was because I was eight years old. I didn't know what sex was, so I didn't have the words to say what happened," the man said.

Yeshivah Centre spokesman Yehoshua Smukler said in a statement police said there was no basis for concern in relation to any current staff member, and had complimented the centre on their "exemplary child protection policies and procedures".

Rabbi Smukler, principal of the centre's Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah colleges, said police would immediately tell them if a staff member was being investigated, and that person would be stood down. He attacked Manny Waks' Tzedek victims advocacy group for running a "vendetta" against Yeshivah.

Mr Waks said of his shunning by the community: ''The Talmud says the best journey is when you get rid of doubt. I've been hoping for years that people would come round, but it's not going to happen.'' Mr Waks, whose home is near the Yeshivah Centre, said he used to go there up to five times a day, but could not go there any more.

Manny Waks, a victim of child sex abuse, posted on Facebook that he was ''bitterly disappointed to share that due to the ongoing harassment, intimidation and discrimination from leaders and members of the Yeshivah Centre, which has effectively led to my parents' excommunication from their community of almost 30 years (carried out by Yeshivah leaders and most of its members),'' they were relocating.

He told Fairfax Media: ''The bullies have won, to some degree. But the campaign [against sexual abuse] will continue.''

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