Published: 12 February 2015
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas with research assistance from Kate Stowell
Former Chair of Yeshiva Jewish Centre admits failures in ensuring safety of children
Rabbi Wolf, who was the Chair of the Yeshiva centre’s committee of management until late 2014, has admitted to the Royal Commission that failures in governance compromised the safety of children at the centre.
Rabbi Wolf’s testimony follows the resignation earlier this week of Rabbi Yosef Feldman as director of the Yeshiva Centre.
Rabbi Feldman comments at the Royal Commission had drawn strong public criticism when he referred to “fake victims” and when he expressed concern that more people coming forward with allegations of abuse would cause problems for now convicted sex offender David Cyprys.
Rabbi Wolf acknowledged that the Committee did not oversee the conduct of Rabbi Groner, who has been accused of ignoring complaints from survivors.
He said that these failures had allowed another spiritual leader at the centre, Rabbi Telsner, to speak out strongly against “gossip” and “people sending emails about when they did not have the right”, and that this amounted to “slandering people”. It was clearly understood by the audience that he was referring specifically to emails circulated by someone known before the Commission simply as AVP, who had himself been abused, and who was encouraging others who had been similarly abused to take their complaints to the police.
Rabbi Wolf said he was aware that Rabbi Telsner’s sermons were aimed at people within the congregation at a time when police were investigating allegations of child sexual abuse within the centre.
He could not recall being told about the content of the emails. Nor did not keep notes of his discussions at committee meetings.
Following cross examination, Rabbi Wolf conceded that this, along with other matters, amounted to an abdication of responsibility by the centre’s committee of management.