Maccabi Australia to review handling of abuse scandal

SYDNEY (JTA) — Maccabi Australia will conduct an independent review of its handling of a child sex abuse scandal that resulted in the imprisonment of a former basketball coach.

Maccabi Australia’s board on Monday committed to the review in the case of Shannon Francis that will investigate events at the time of the offenses, as well as how Maccabi handled the scandal beginning when Francis was charged in 2011.

Francis was found guilty of several child sex abuse offenses between 1999 and 2000, including sexual penetration of a minor, while he was coaching a junior girls team for the largest Jewish organization in Australia with some 9,000 members across more than 50 clubs. He was sentenced last month to a prison term of eight years.

Maccabi officials have been under fire following allegations that at least one senior official had been warned about Francis at the time of the offenses.

“The board’s commitment to an independent review was made on the back of listening to the victims who have expressed their concerns about the Maccabi organization’s internal processes and actions,” Maccabi President Lisa Borowick said in a statement.

Borowick said the board “approached respected members of the community who are independent of Maccabi” to form the review panel, which intends to produce its findings by November and issue a public statement.

Manny Waks, a spokesman for the victims, welcomed the development.

“Due to the serious allegations by the victims and others regarding the mishandling of the case by senior Maccabi officials — both at the time of the abuse and more recently since Shannon Francis was charged — an independent, transparent and immediate review of the facts, as well as the provision of guidance on how to respond to similar cases in the future, is an appropriate response,” he said.

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