During the short history of this organization, Jewish Community Watch (JCW) has received many questions. JCW has compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) as a way to help people better understand JCW, our mission, and our process. If you have a question that you feel should be listed here, please contact us with any proposal that be appropriate to include.
Index of Questions:
- Top FAQs
- Wall of Shame
- Reporting an Abuser
- Get Help
- Other Questions
Q: Does JCW have a board?
A: Yes. For more information, please see the Board of Advisors page.
Q: Is JCW trying to bring shame to the Frum world?
A: No. In fact, those involved with JCW work with the intention of improving the Frum world. As an organization, we feel that every community has its issues and as members of the community we are responsible to protect those that are the most vulnerable. We take every precaution to not bring stories to the media or other outlets that have demonstrated a negative association with the Frum world in the past. However, there is no doubt that the benefit of publication and exposure of potential threats to the community outweighs the potential risk associated with the same measures.
Q: So whose side are you on?
A: JCW supports and identifies with members of the Jewish Community, the victims, their respective families, and the public, particularly those vigilant about keeping their children safe. JCW’s commitment is, and will always be, to tell the truth. We have turned down money from those that wanted to donate, but at the same time, suggested to negatively impact the community. JCW has turned down money from those that wanted to donate but desired to keep certain names from being exposed. JCW is built on a foundation of EMES (truth). We will always stay vigilant but neutral, with a focus on the truth and protecting our children.
Q: Isn’t this a Chillul Hashem?
A: On the contrary, the work we do is a Kiddush Hashem because it shows the world that we have the moral fortitude to bring honesty and safety to our community. When the rest of the world sees that the Orthodox Jewish community is acknowledging its issues and taking a moral and just position against danger, standing together with those that have been hurt, this causes our community to be a light unto the other nations and brings a true Kiddush Hashem.
Moreover, to pretend a problem does not exist while people are getting hurt is dishonest, deceitful, and cannot in any way glorify Hashem’s name. We must band together as a community and protect individuals that have been harmed and those that have the potential to be harmed. We are responsible for one another. Indeed, making certain difficult choices is absolutely necessary in order to prevent future harm towards our children, and violations of the Holy Torah, Chas Vesholom.
Q: What about the families of abusers? Why is JCW destroying their lives?
A: The responsibility for the pain of the family members of the abusers falls upon the abuser. The person that abused the child is fully responsible for the repercussions that his/her family faces. Hiding behind one’s own family, innocent victims, and blaming the pain they suffer on JCW, is not much different than the Hamas tactic of hiding behind human shields and then blaming the State of Israel for the casualties. In fact, at JCW, we consider the family of the abuser to be “secondary victims” and offer support to them when they reach out to us.
Q: Do you feel bad for the abusers’ families?
A: Yes. We feel horrible for every victim of sexual abuse because, unfortunately, the families of the abusers are also victims of the abuser. They are considered secondary victims of the abuser and also suffer from the abusers actions, forced to pay a price for the actions of their family member. For more information on secondary abuse, please see our Educational Section.
Q: Who made JCW judge, jury, and executioner?
A: No one elected JCW nor was this organization appointed by any authority. Our objective is to collect information in a responsible way and to then deliver it to the public. This is only when the information serves the specific goal of protecting the public.
JCW is simply trying to warn the community of possible threats and allow parents to make choices for themselves about who is or isn’t a danger to their children. Thus, posting someone on the Wall of Shame is hardly acting as a judge, jury, and executioner. Offenders deserve far more than just having their picture on a website.
Q: If I report someone will he/she automatically go onto the Wall of Shame?
A: No. JCW conducts a thorough investigation, consults with its Board of Advisors (to assist on Torah, psychological, rabbinical, legal, and other issues), and consults with outside professionals concerning possible issues that may occur, including the impact it will have on the victims and their families. After the investigation is complete and a course of action is established by the advisors, the case is presented to the Investigative Committee, who reviews the case and all attending documentations, and presents a decision on the matter.
Wall of Shame
Q: Do you have criteria before posting someone to the Wall of Shame?
A: Yes, JCW does have a criteria and a generalized policy that is known to both the Board of Advisors and the Investigative Committee. Unfortunately, due to the sensitivity of the issues involved, the criteria cannot be publicly published.
Q: Does JCW always follow the Investigative Process before posting an offender on the site?
A: Cases that resulted in criminal conviction and/or those that were publicly known via various news organizations are not subject to review. The information will immediately be published on the Wall of Shame or on JCW’s newsblog. However, in the past, all the offenders that have been exposed, specifically through JCW’s efforts and investigations, have been reviewed by the Investigative Committee and they unanimously approved to expose the abuser.
Q: Before an offender is posted on the Wall of Shame, are the allegations of the offense confirmed as factual?
A: Yes, to the highest degree of responsible certainty. Hundreds of cases were brought to JCW’s attention for review, but only a small percentage of those cases resulted in exposure of the offender. JCW conducts extensive investigations and would never rely upon the suggestions of mere allegations or hearsay.
Q: Is it an option for the offender to pay monetary restitution to the victim or to JCW in exchange for not be exposed?
A: No, that is not an option. We have never accepted money on this condition and never will.
Q: Have you ever exposed someone wrongfully?
Q: Is it true that someone was listed on the Wall of Shame and later removed? Wouldn’t that be a case where someone was wrongfully exposed?
A: Yes, it is true that an individual was posted on the Wall of Shame as an offender and was later removed, however, it was not a case of someone being wrongfully or mistakenly exposed.
JCW received complaints regarding the individual from community members in Crown Heights that raised red flags. Subsequently, and with no relation to any information gathered by JCW, the same individual was arrested by the NYPD, and charged with sexually abusing a child. In line with JCW’s policy of warning the community of potential danger to its children, and with Rabbinical consent, JCW exposed the person. Later, when the charges brought by the State were dismissed, JCW removed the person’s information from the site, because JCW did not have enough independent information to maintain the exposure, and it appeared from the dismissal by the State that the allegations were unsubstantiated.
Any complaints regarding the exposure of this individual should not be brought to JCW but rather to the local police department or the family who brought the charges. In fact, JCW would make the same decision if presented with the same facts in the future.
Q: Why expose someone for a molestation that occurred many years before?
- The recidivism rate among child molesters is extremely high. Many professionals view child molestation as an illness or addiction that an offender is continuously at risk to reoffend. Therefore, once an abuser is a risk, they will always be a risk unless they actively choose to get the help they need.
- In order to deter other potential predators by sending a clear message that they will be held accountable for sexually abusing a child, regardless of when they did it.
- In order to provide justice and a sense of closure to their victims, because the damage that results from abuse often lingers and festers for 10, 20, 30 years, and even longer absent the requisite therapy.
- In order to encourage other victims to come forward whenever they can, and to notify authorities of the abuse.
- There is no Statute of Limitations in Halacha and a perpetrator is not absolved of his sin simply by passage of time.
More of this can be found in the About the Wall of Shame section.
Q: Can someone do Teshuva (repentance) for abusing a child in order to avoid being posted on the Wall of Shame?
A: Yes, in some circumstances there are measures that can be taken. Such measures would be considered during the evaluation by JCW when deciding whether an offender should be posted on JCW.
The concept of Teshuva is very complex and is discussed by most Halachic authorities and Chassidic leaders. Teshuva does not just mean feeling bad for what you did and asking Hashem for forgiveness. Teshuva also requires a variety of factors, including making a public acknowledgement of wrongdoings, paying restitution to your victims, and taking every precaution to avoid ever repeating the offense again. If an abuser is concerned that JCW may one day find out about their crime and expose them, they should do everything in their power to rectify the damage they have done, seek therapy for themselves, and deal with their perversion.
Taking the following actions could lead to an offender not to be posted on the site, provided it was done before they are caught:
- Sincerely apologizing and making the appropriate amends to the victims and their families
- Distancing oneself from children (i.e. does not work with children or the like)
- Committing to therapy and regular monitoring by a professional
- Working to combat child sexual abuse in the community
Q: If an offender is posted on the Wall of Shame, is there a way to be removed?
A: Yes, there are cases that would be reconsidered after time, but it is not a common practice. Each case will be determined individually by our board, focusing on the nature of the crime, the manner in which the perpetrator operated and groomed the victims, the impact the abuse had on the victims, the potential threat to the community, the actions taken by the perpetrator to repent for the crime, and other relevant information.
Q: If someone was removed from the Wall of Shame does that mean it was not true?
A: No. The Wall of Shame is a dynamic site based on the current threats to the community. One purpose of it serves to warn parents and the community of potential dangers. As a result, a situation may change and cause a reevaluation of an exposed perpetrator by the Investigative Committee. If, however, a person is wrongfully posted, JCW will issue a formal and public apology detailing the mistake.
Q: Are there instances where an offender would not be exposed by JCW?
A: Yes. There have been instances where the JCW board chose not to expose individuals. Some examples include:
- a) When there wasn’t a unanimous vote by our board
- b) When there was insufficient evidence that the crime was committed
- c) When exposure causes greater harm to the victim than non-exposure
- d) When every attempt was made at ensuring that the abuse will never re-occur (This is subject to the victim’s desire for justice weighed against the need to warn the community.)
Regardless, JCW maintains that all cases should be reported to the police and/or other law enforcement. Reporting the abuse may assist the police in getting corroborating evidence or other information to aid another case.
Q: In cases where it’s impossible or very difficult to gather legitimate proof (no witnesses, minors account, etc.), does JCW publicize the molester?
A: No, when the evidence is not reliable enough to be verified responsibly, JCW would not post information about the alleged offender on the site or in any public forum.
Most cases in which a person claims that they have been molested, the charges are true, and the few that are not generally happen to be in custody battles, etc. People generally do not lie about being abused. However, there are situations when there isn’t legitimate proof or when obtaining evidence leads nowhere. In such a case, JCW will not expose the abuser. As previously mentioned, all cases should be reported to the police, who may or may not have further proof or information.
Q: What if you post someone on the Wall of Shame and then the evidence shows that the accused is innocent?
A: The person’s information would be removed from the site and JCW would post an apology.
The procedure and regulations that JCW has in place makes it virtually impossible for this to happen. In the unlikely scenario that this does happen, JCW will report that the person was innocent and he/she will be removed from the Wall of Shame and the newsblog. If there was a JCW investigation and it was determined that false testimony was provided, JCW will expose the people who lied and their accomplices. JCW will also write a public letter of apology to the innocent person and assist the wrongfully accused in any way possible.
Q: Do you contact a molester to hear his/her side of the story?
A: In some incidents we may contact the abuser in order to give him/her a chance to explain what happened. In cases where there is evidence for arrest and conviction, we leave it for the police to decide what to do.
Q: Have you had any false cases reported to you?
A: Yes, but none of these false cases resulted in a mistaken exposure because JCW investigated the claims and tracked down the truth. In one instance, a blog was created and a person was brought to JCW’s attention. JCW investigated the case and, realizing that the blog was offering information that was untrue, JCW tracked down the blog sources and had it removed. There have also been other scenarios where a thorough investigation determined that accusations were false. No publicity was drawn to those cases by JCW. In the former case, since the public was completely unaware of this incident, our Board chose to not draw unnecessary attention to the issue and expose it publicly. The perpetrator of this falsehood was confronted and he apologized for his actions.
Q: What do you do if someone reports falsely and you find out?
A: If it is revealed to JCW that someone made false accusations in an attempt to destroy an innocent person’s life, JCW will take all corrective measures to bring justice to the matter and the specifics steps of how to proceed will be decided and voted upon by JCW’s board.
Q: Why do you have people listed that have never been arrested?
A: JCW is not bound by the rights provided to offenders by the Criminal Justice System. JCW will seek to protect children in the community even in situations where the offender somehow circumvented prosecution.
The most common example of this is in cases where the Statute of Limitation (SOL) has expired, shielding the offender from prosecution. The SOL requires a victim to come forward with accusations shortly after they become adults. While many states have changed this, some states still maintain short SOL’s (NY, for example, has a 3 year SOL for misdemeanors, 5 year SOL for felonies). Most victims are unprepared to talk about their abuse until many years after the crime was committed. Consequently, victims are denied justice for an incident that occurred while they were young.
Likewise, a victim may be dissuaded from reporting an offense because they feel that there is a stigma and shame associated with being known as a victim or because they don’t want to feel pressure from the community or from the predator’s supporters. In these cases, JCW provides an outlet for these victims while taking the opportunity to warn the community of the danger in its midst.
Q: Why do you say Alleged?
A: Even though we go through an extremely lengthy and thorough investigative process before a predator is exposed as a danger to the community, we use the word “alleged” in order to protect ourselves from frivolous lawsuits.
Q: Does JCW require consent from the victim before posting the offender to the Wall of Shame?
A: It depends. If the person is deemed an active threat to children (e.g. he/she works with children), we will expose the abuser with or without the victim’s consent in order to keep the community safe. JCW’s primary mission is to educate and protect the public.
Q: What legal actions are taken against the molesters who are posted on your site?
A: JCW encourages all victims to report their incident to the police and make a police report of the incident. In several cases, JCW was instrumental in getting individuals arrested, charged, and convicted for the abuse they committed.
Additionally, JCW encourages all victims to seek appropriate restitution from the offender. However, in both scenarios, it is not JCW’s mission or duty to assist in the legal proceedings.
Q: Am I allowed to report someone to the police?
A: According to the Crown Heights Beis Din, if you know that someone is an abuser you must report him.
Reporting an Abuser
Q: What happens once I report abuse to JCW?
A: Check out our Investigative Process tab, to understand our process for when someone reaches out to us.
Q: If I know of someone that abused children, or I strongly suspect that they abused children, what should I do?
A: If you are a mandated reporter, you must immediately report your suspicions to law enforcement. If you are not a mandated reporter, we still advocate that every case should be reported to the police. Additionally and separately, you should consider reporting this to JCW or another similar organization that can assist in guiding both you and the victims.
Q: Is everything I report confidential?
A: JCW does everything in its power to maintain the confidentiality of reporting parties, victims, and their family members. However, JCW will share some information with its Board of Advisors and other internal parties in order to evaluate and consider a course of action.
Q: Why should I report a crime that happened so long ago?
A: Reporting a crime may save a life or another person from being harmed. The police often have records or other information unknown to the public and may be waiting on another victim to corroborate with another reported event. Additionally, since molesters are recidivist, there is a good chance that your case against the abuser is not the first, nor will it be the last.
Q: What do the police require in order to make an arrest?
A: In order to arrest someone, the police have to have sufficient probable cause that the person committed the accused crimes. Additionally, in order for the District Attorney to file charges, it is necessary to provide sufficient evidence, proving the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. A DA is typically not allowed to file charges against someone if the entirety of the evidence is only “he said / she said”, requiring additional evidence, including corroborating circumstantial evidence.
- For Survivors
Q: Does JCW help victims of abuse connect with each other for support?
A: Yes, doctors believe that a crucial part of the healing process is connecting with others who have had similar experiences. JCW therefore tries to connect survivors with others in their area in order to enhance recovery. In the future, JCW plans to create support groups as well.
Q: Do you offer support for the victim?
A: Yes. A victim’s health is a top priority for JCW. We will assist any victim of child sexual abuse within our community with therapy and finding a therapist.
Q: Do you keep information private unless the victim gives his/her consent for it to be shared with the public?
A: JCW has a strict policy to never to give out the information of any victim (or their families/supporters) to anyone. Every person involved in JCW is required to sign a nondisclosure agreement, guaranteeing that they will not disclose information unless it is with consent or it is absolutely necessary to save a life.
Q: Can you help me find a therapist?
Q: Do you deal with other types of abuse like domestic abuse, physical abuse, or emotional abuse?
A: No. JCW is committed and focused on child sexual abuse. While we empathize with other forms of abuse, our expertise lies in this area.
- Friends of survivors
Q: My friend/child was abused years ago, but doesn’t want to discuss it or go to therapy. What do you think I should do?
A: Never force a victim to come forward and talk. Be there for them and let them know that you’re there to listen if they feel ready to talk about their abuse. Let them know that there are other victims that have gone through the same things and that they can reach out to organizations like JCW for help, who won’t judge them. See our Get Help section for more information.
- For abusers
Q: Do you provide resources for those who are attracted to children and looking for treatment?
A: The resource section of the Get Help page has links that can help someone looking for treatment. We realize that those who commit these acts, while in no way justified, often have powerful and difficult urges to control and we have the utmost respect for those who seek to undergo treatment and recovery. If the resource section is not adequate for your needs, we ask that you contact us and we will do our best to get you the proper support.
Q: Does treatment help for abusers?
A: Yes, treatment does help, but there is no cure. Similar to the recovery of addictions, it remains a constant struggle and battle.
Q: How do I deal with the families of abusers I am friends with?
A: The family members of abusers are secondary victims and should therefore be treated with equal respect and dignity offered to any other individual.
Q: Has JCW ever been sued?
Q: Has JCW ever been brought to a Beis Din?
Q: What about Rabbis that cover up sex abuse? Do you have a position on them?
A: In the past, many rabbis were unaware of the horrific consequences of abuse to a victim and his/her family. We are optimistic that if they are educated on these issues and understand the damage wrought, they will change their positions. If, however, a Rabbi is unwilling to change his ways and continuously engages in cover-ups, we will inform the community of his actions. Rav Tauber, Shlita, says that if you know of a molester and don’t do anything to stop the abuse it is as if you molested the child yourself.
Q: Do you have representatives outside of New York to provide support and encouragement to victims?
A: Yes. We work with other organizations, advocates, professionals, and survivors around the globe. We are also consistently looking for opportunities to build and grow our network.
Q: Where is opposition to JCW stemming from and how is JCW addressing those obstacles to justice?
A: There are members in the community that either maintain a myopic approach to these issues, desire minimal exposure of any negativity to the community, don’t understand or believe the issue in its entirety, or don’t feel that sexual abuse is a big deal. JCW will continue to try to drive the narrative and dialogue by bringing injustices to light and by providing justice to those wronged. As we have seen over the past two years, issues and discussions of abuse, once relegated to dark corners, are now being publicly discussed and dealt with in a healthy and appropriate manner. We hope that this will continue.
Q: What is JCW’s process to ensure continuous improvement to its governance, particularly as it expands into new areas?
A: We will continue to seek advice from professionals in the areas that need improvement as well as listen to our supporters and our critics in an effort to enhance our organization.
Q: Is my donation tax deductible? Are you a 501(c)(3)?
A: JCW is a 501(c)(3) organization that can provide tax receipts to anyone that made a donation. Donations are tax deductible.
Q: Does JCW deal with other communities as well, or is it just New York?
A: JCW is an international organization. We currently have ongoing investigations for crimes in several states and countries.
Q: As a community member, what can I do to help?
A: Public support, both vocal and financial, are important to the survival of JCW and its ability to continue to operate. You can encourage your rabbi to get involved with JCW, create awareness of the issue by having community meetings, conduct training sessions, or simply be vigilant of potential threats. Also, JCW is trying to organize volunteers to assist on specific projects (keeping in mind that much of JCW’s information is highly sensitive and private).
Q: I have contacted JCW and never got a reply…
A: We do the best we can to respond to everyone who reaches out to us. Unfortunately, in the past, JCW did not have a lot of resources and there are therefore cases, emails, and calls that have slipped through the cracks. We assure you that this was not on purpose. If you have not yet gotten a reply, please reach out to us again.