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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Will THE WEBERMAN CASE BE A CATALYST FOR CHANGE IN THE WAY OUR COMMUNITY DEALS WITH SEX ABUSE ?

Nechemya Weberman was convicted of 59 counts of sexual molestation and was sentenced to 103 years.









  









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By Mark Meyer Appel
PRESIDENT
THE VOICE OF JUSTICE
1/24/2013



This week the Hasidic community in Brooklyn exploded with the news that Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed youth counselor, was convicted on 59 counts of sexual molestation of a young girl whom he had been counseling. He was sentenced to a staggering 103 years in the state penitentiary. Weberman had been counseling this young teen, although he had no license and no professional training and no legal right to counsel this young victim.
This high profile case has brought much insight into the Hasidic community in how they deal with child abuse, and was closely watched by advocates and parents across the State of New York. The sentence is the longest a Brooklyn court has imposed on a member of the ultra-orthodox community.
For many years now, prosecution of sexual abuse cases in the New York court system have been held to a bare minimum. The reason being is that community leaders have been using their political influence to protect child molesters by advocating that these horrific crimes be brought to their own religious courts first.
We, as advocates, have been frustrated and aggravated by the lack of concern of the Hassidic and Orthodox communities in reporting sexual crimes to the authorities.
We have been faced with many challenges, the greatest one being the path that has been the policy of the District Attorney of Kings County, Mr. Charles J. Hynes, who has repeatedly refused to publicly announce names of sexual predators who have already been arrested. His actions continue to this very day. Mr. Hynes’ policies have been criticized by Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Koch on his poor and dismal record of prosecuting sex offenders in the Hasidic and Orthodox communities.





Another great challenge for us, as advocates, is how do we deal with these communities who discourage victims of sexual abuse from coming forward and naming their abuser? Many of our major Jewish organizations, like Satmar and Agudath Israel of America, have failed in this regard by encouraging victims to report these crimes to Rabbinical Courts rather than reporting them directly to the legal authorities. What the communities urgently need is more educational programming in our schools and in our homes, to understand and deal with the abuse in a proper fashion. In the Hassidic community, religious men are brought up in a rigid atmosphere of segregation from women. With this kind of separation and lack of education and ignorance, the Jewish community is hardly equipped to deal with crimes of sexual abuse amongst themselves, They must bring the accused forward into the light of the secular world and not continue to believe that they are above the law by handling these crimes within their own rabbinical courts.




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Another great challenge for us, as advocates, is how do we deal with these communities who discourage victims of sexual abuse from coming forward and naming their abuser? Many of our major Jewish organizations, like Satmar and Agudath Israel of America, have failed in this regard by encouraging victims to report these crimes to Rabbinical Courts rather than reporting them directly to the legal authorities. What the communities urgently need is more educational programming in our schools and in our homes, to understand and deal with the abuse in a proper fashion. In the Hassidic community, religious men are brought up in a rigid atmosphere of segregation from women. With this kind of separation and lack of education and ignorance, the Jewish community is hardly equipped to deal with crimes of sexual abuse amongst themselves, They must bring the accused forward into the light of the secular world and not continue to believe that they are above the law by handling these crimes within their own rabbinical courts.
In the State of New York, the Jewish community falls short in providing educational programs to parents and children with regard to coming forward and properly reporting these crimes to the legal authorities.
This challenge we face in protecting our children from sex crimes is not a religious issue and should be dealt with by reporting these crimes to the proper legal authorities only.
The most important challenge we face today is to protect and keep our children safe. We must provide more educational programs for parents and children and require all private schools to properly train their staff on the correct procedures and policies.
Our community should be no different from any other community to legal authorities and when dealing with crimes such as sexual abuse. An urgent need is for a comprehensive proclamation by all Jewish community organizations with a unified voice that sexual abuse will not be tolerated, and that protection of our children from predators is essential to the preservation of our future generations. Crimes of sexual abuse should be reported only not to any rabbinical courts.

Let us hope that the lessons that we learn from the Weberman case continue to unify us and make us stronger in our quest for a healthier community in which our most prized possession, which is our children, can remain protected and safe











Another great challenge for us, as advocates, is how do we deal with these communities who discourage victims of sexual abuse from coming forward and naming their abuser? Many of our major Jewish organizations, like Satmar and Agudath Israel of America, have failed in this regard by encouraging victims to report these crimes to Rabbinical Courts rather than reporting them directly to the legal authorities. What the communities urgently need is more educational programming in our schools and in our homes, to understand and deal with the abuse in a proper fashion. In the Hassidic community, religious men are brought up in a rigid atmosphere of segregation from women. With this kind of separation and lack of education and ignorance, the Jewish community is hardly equipped to deal with crimes of sexual abuse amongst themselves, They must bring the accused forward into the light of the secular world and not continue to believe that they are above the law by handling these crimes within their own rabbinical courts.
In the State of New York, the Jewish community falls short in providing educational programs to parents and children with regard to coming forward and properly reporting these crimes to the legal authorities.
This challenge we face in protecting our children from sex crimes is not a religious issue and should be dealt with by reporting these crimes to the proper legal authorities only.
The most important challenge we face today is to protect and keep our children safe. We must provide more educational programs for parents and children and require all private schools to properly train their staff on the correct procedures and policies.
Our community should be no different from any other community when dealing with crimes such as sexual abuse. An urgent need is for a comprehensive proclamation by all Jewish community organizations with a unified voice that sexual abuse will not be tolerated, and that protection of our children from predators is essential to the preservation of our future generations. Crimes of sexual abuse should be reported only to legal authorities and not to any rabbinical courts.

 Let us hope that the lessons that we learn from the Weberman case continue to unify us and make us stronger in our quest for a healthier community in which our most prized possession, which is our children, can remain protected and safe
.
Mark Meyer Appel  is the President of The Voice of Justice, an advocate agency and full service organization for special needs children and their families



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Update on the Child Victims Act of New York to eliminate the statue of limitations





                                                                  




NY STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM
                                                                                           
FROM: Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, NY State Assembly 30th District
SUBJECT: January 2013 Update on the Child Victims Act of New York
New Bill to Completely Eliminate Statutes of Limitations in the Future
Eight years ago, I first introduced a bill to extend the current statute of limitations for child sexual abuse for an extra five years beyond current law, extending the time for a victim to come forward with allegations of abuse to the age of 28. I saw how so many victims of abuse were not able to come to grips with what happened to them until they were older and my colleagues and I thought this modest extension would be a good first step toward a more equitable law.
After adopting this bill four times in the Assembly since 2006, but failing to see it ever come to the floor of the State Senate, we have had shocking revelations emerge in the U.S. and around the world that clearly demonstrate why adding a few years to the statute of limitations is no longer enough. That is why my new legislation, A1771, now seeks to completely eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes in New York State.
Over the past year alone, cases involving Penn State and Syracuse Universities, the Boy Scouts, the Diocese of Philadelphia, the BBC, Poly Prep Day School, Horace Mann School, and Yeshiva University High School not only demonstrate that the current law is not just woefully inadequate but that justice requires more than a modest extension of SOLs.
That is why my bill in the new session of the Legislature will seek to completely eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations for these crimes. As with previous legislation adopted by the Assembly, this new bill also includes a one-year “window” that completely suspends the civil statute of limitations for old crimes in order to make it possible for older victims in these cases to get a measure of justice.
There is no limit on what is so often a life-time of suffering and anguish for victims of child sex abuse; likewise, there must be no limit on the ability of victims and society to prosecute abusers and to hold accountable the institutions and organizations who protect and hide them making it possible for them to continue to prey on new victims.
We will Hold a Public Hearing in NYC on March 8th
The Assembly Codes Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and I will hold a public hearing on A1771 on March 8, 2013 in New York City to hear testimony on the new legislation. We are anxious to hear testimony from law enforcement and criminal justice officers and officials, mental health experts, victims and others about why there should be no statutes of limitations on child sex abuse crimes. We are particularly interested in hearing about research that clearly demonstrates why so many victims of abuse do not come to grips with the abuse they have suffered until later in life, long after the current law permits them to come forward and for their abusers and those who hide them to be identified and punished.
Statewide Lobby Days, Rally & Forum in Albany on April 16-17
Over the coming weeks I will be reaching out to my colleagues in the Assembly and to members of the State Senate of both parties who feel strongly about this issue. As supporters of the Child Victims Act also reach out to their own local elected Assembly and Senate representatives, we also want to bring the issue to the Governor and the Legislature in a dramatic way by combining a lobbying initiative, rally and educational forum on CVA to the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 16-17th. I urge all supporters to plan to be in Albany for these activities to add their voices to the demand that this bill be adopted during this session by the Legislature and that the Governor agree to sign it into law. I invite all organizations that are active and concerned about child sexual abuse to join our educational forum on the subject which will be held April 17th. Space will be provided in the Well of the Legislative Office Building for organizations to present graphic and multi-media exhibits to help educate legislators and their professional staffs about the issue and explain why this bill needs to become law.
A Very Moving Documentary Film about Abuse is an Oscar Contender
Institutional cover-up of child sex abuse crimes has received strong attention in the media over the past few years as notorious examples have emerged involving schools, universities, sports, religious and youth organizations. That is why supporters of the Child Victims Act and I held a press conference at Film Forum in Manhattan to urge viewing of the documentary film, “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”, which had its U.S. Premiere in December. The film investigates the secret crimes of a Milwaukee priest who abused more than 200 deaf children in the 1960s & 70s through the eyes of a handful of the survivors of the abuse. Even though it documents the cover-up by multiple layers of authority in the Catholic Church, the cover-up process is similar to that we have seen emerge at Penn State, Syracuse University, the Boy Scouts and several youth organizations. It is a tribute to the strong impact of the film that it has been short-listed for the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary. This HBO Film, directed by Alex Gibney and produced by Wider Productions, may be seen nationally on the HBO network starting on February 4. I am hopeful we will be able to arrange a screening in Albany so my legislative colleagues will be able to see it.
Stay Informed About the Issue and Our Progress this Year
Keep in touch with the latest developments concerning the Child Victims Act by visiting my New York State Assembly website, http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Margaret-M-Markey/where I post updates on activities in connection with the legislation, significant news coverage about the bill and reports about upcoming events. Another website that has information about statute of limitations reform activities throughout the United States is www.SOL-Reform.com. If you want to work in your own community or in Albany to achieve passage of the Child Victims Act, you may contact the New York Coalition to Protect Children (www.NYProtectChildren.org), a volunteer organization whose primary mission is to achieve passage of the Child Victims Act. As always, I welcome your letters and messages of support and suggestions for how to convince my colleagues in state government to make the Child Victims Act the law in the State of New York. My email address is markeym@assembly.state.ny.us
Thank You to All Those Who Support the Child Victims Act
I want to express my admiration to all those who have worked so hard over recent years to help bring this issue to public attention. I also want to express my heart-felt gratitude to all those individuals who have written and met with me to share their personal details and offered to join me in the fight to make this bill a law. I also want to thank those brave survivors and organizations who have stood up with me over the past few years at public demonstrations, press conferences, lobby days and in so many other ways to keep this legislation alive. In states all around us there are active movements to enact similar laws to modernize statutes of limitations for these offenses. As we saw in 2011 and again in 2012, fresh examples of outrageous conduct on the part of organizations and institutions in covering up child sexual abuse keep emerging to reinforce the need for this change. That is why I have absolutely no doubt that it is inevitable that the Child Victims Act will become law. My goal this year is to ensure that 2013 is the year for it to happen in New York State.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

NECHAYMA WEBERMAN GETS SENTENCED TO 103 YEARS IN PRISION

Today's harsh prison sentencing of Nechemya Weberman is Nechemya Weberman (credit: CBS 2)bittersweet. It brings closure to the heroic victim and family who had great courage and tenacity to pursue her molester despite enormous intimation to her and her family. The prosecution of Nechemya Weberman for his sexual crimes could have been avoided if our Rabbinical leaders had done more in the area of protecting our children and putting an end to the massive intimidation of the victims who reported sexual crimes to the authorities. We stand here today with more strength and hope than ever that we must eradicate rid this plague of sexual abuse in our communities forever. We hope that all the victims voices will continue to be heard and all  the perpetrators will be brought to justice. THE VOICE OF JUSTICE is extremely proud of the victim and her family with whom we have maintained constant communication. We are extremely proud of the victim and her jubilation to now begin to have a more productive life in society. This message today is loud and clear, that those who abuse our children will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. THE VOICE OF JUSTICE remains committed to getting help to all victims.

LET US PRAY FOR HOPE AND HEALING AND IN MAKING OUR COMMUNITIES A SAFE HARBOR FOR OUR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES.
 
                                   MAY GOD PROTECT OUR CHILDREN

MARK MEYER APPEL PRESIDENT THE VOICE OF JUSTICE 1 800 621 8551

Sunday, January 20, 2013

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY CELEBRATION

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

                                                          
IT WAS 50 years ago this August that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. closed his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with his rendering of a dream he had for the country’s future. The soaring final sentences were somewhat extemporaneous — he let his emotions and sense of the occasion carry him past parts of the prepared text and on to the right words, concluding with the rousing “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.” It was an exultant moment for much of this country, and in the national memory it has acquired the gauzy image of a happy ending to our long struggle with racial inequality and bigotry. Less vibrant in memory is an image from less than three weeks later: four girls dressed all in white because they were to lead youth day services at their Birmingham, Ala., church, their lives suddenly ended by a racial terrorist bombing.
“During the short career of Martin Luther King Jr., between 1954 and 1968, the nonviolent civil rights movement lifted the patriotic spirit of the United States toward our defining national purpose,” writes Taylor Branch, a chronicler of those years. But it was a hard lifting. In the years after the dream speech there were racially motivated murders in the South and riots in large cities in the North. Dr. King, who had emerged as a national figure amid the moral clarity of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, found himself under attack from others in the civil rights movement for not pushing hard or fast enough, from the emerging black-power forces for being insufficiently “militant” and from people who disapproved of his emerging stands on the Vietnam war or economic issues. And then the King years ended in yet another atrocious act of violence — his assassination at a Memphis hotel. “Most of us will be grandparents before we can lead normal lives,” said one leader at the height of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. He meant that the striving and agitating and the demonstrations were going to have to go on for a long, long time.


 Martin Luther King Jr. Day
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Today, on the national day set aside to honor Dr. King, an African American president will ceremonially begin his second term. Like presidents before him, he has had his ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs. There is, to be sure, an element of bigotry among some of his enemies, but in general it has had a kind of cowardly, subterranean quality to it. President Obama was assailed mostly for what his critics thought were wrong policies or judgments. In the end, as always, the final verdict was given at the polls; the president was reelected, and his inauguration will be celebrated today — not quite with the rapturous enthusiasm of four years ago but rather with something resembling blessed normality.
Dr. King’s words “Free at last, free at last” were specifically addressed not just to black Americans but to people of all faiths, colors and persuasions. He knew that they were all in need of liberation from the cruel customs and habits of the nation’s past, which held back every one of us in one way or another. He had a sense of the moment







 



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