SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — The Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal apologized “unreservedly” to the victims.
The apology, issued Monday in a letter from the head of the Yeshivah College and the head of the Yeshivah Center, which houses the headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch in Melbourne, said: “We understand and appreciate that there are victims who feel aggrieved and we sincerely and unreservedly apologize for any historical wrongs that may have occurred.”
Outlining safety measures the college had taken, the letter said it “wants to make it absolutely clear that we condemn sexual abuse in any form.”
It comes six weeks after a judge ordered David Cyprys, a former security guard contracted to the college, to stand trial next year for multiple child sex abuse charges allegedly perpetrated over two decades ago on 12 students – three of whom now reside in America.
Manny Waks, the only Australian-based victim who has spoken publicly, said that the apology was “an important milestone.”
“The other past victims and I sought recognition of the ongoing and serious sexual abuse we suffered from the very institution that we hold partly responsible for that abuse. Today’s statement by the Yeshivah leadership is an acknowledgement of the abuse we suffered,” he said.
But the apology is “only a first step,” he continued.
“The reality is that Yeshivah has not apologized for their despicable behavior over the past year,” Waks said. He also criticized the letter’s claim that they are cooperating with police even though detectives had accused the college of a cover-up in court.
One blogger slammed the letter as a “lawyer-drafted piece of propaganda” and a “non-apology apology” that “does not include an admission of guilt.”
Moves are afoot to extradite David Kramer, a convicted pedophile in America, over allegations he committed child sexual abuse at Yeshivah College in the 1980s. Kramer taught at the college.