SYDNEY (JTA) — The launch of a commission to investigate child sex abuse was welcomed by the principal of an Australian Jewish school whose students allegedly were victimized.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Monday that the royal commission — or public inquiry — would look into children under the care of religious organizations and focus on the response of the institutions to the alleged sex abuse cases. She called child sex abuse "vile and evil."
Yeshivah College, an Orthodox school run by Chabad in Melbourne, has been at the center of controversy since allegations broke last year that its students had been victims of sexual abuse.
Its principal, Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, issued a statement Wednesday saying that “Child abuse is abhorrent and has a traumatic consequences for victims and their families. Victims of abuse deserve support and closure, and a royal commission is a very positive and welcome step.”
Manny Waks, a spokesman for alleged victims who claims he was abused as a student at Yeshivah College, said that “I’m receiving more and more allegations of child sexual abuse coming from the Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Jewish communities. Some are alleged to have occurred years ago, while others as recent as the past few years.”
One alleged perpetrator, David Cyprys, is standing trial next year on numerous counts of child sex abuse against former students of Yeshivah College from the 1980s. Another alleged perpetrator, David Kramer, is awaiting extradition from America to Australia, where he is wanted by police who are investigating allegations that he also committed child sex abuse while he taught at Yeshivah College between 1989 and 1993.
Malka Leifer, a former principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, fled the country for Israel in 2008 amid allegations that she sexually abused female students.