The conviction of paedophile Todros Grynhaus will encourage more victims to report abuse to police, according to a senior figure in the strictly Orthodox community.
Grynhaus is facing a “substantial” jail sentence after being found guilty of seven charges of sex abuse against two teenage girls this week.
The 50-year-old teacher-turned-businessman is a well-known figure in Salford’s Charedi community.
A communal leader, who wished to remain anonymous, said the case was a game-changer.
The guilty verdict would now “encourage victims that they will be believed”, he said. The case had shown for the first time that “some senior rabbis are prepared publicy to support victims of abuse through a trial”.
He added: “It has also created a backlash against meddlers who wished to suppress truth in this matter,” he added.
A relative of one of Grynhaus’s victims revealed that “by standing and facing her abuser in a courtroom, she has been empowered to rebuild her own life and become stronger.
“The relief of knowing that a perpetrator can never do to anyone else what they’ve done to your family member is an incredible feeling. And knowing that you have helped make the world a safer place is also incredible.
“The message is — with the right sort of support, coming forward has been worth it.”
Grynhaus had denied the allegations, saying he was the victim of a “revenge plot” and that the girls, now adult women, were lying.
But he was convicted after a two-week trial at Manchester Crown Court. He showed no emotion as he was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault against the girls when they were aged around 14 and 15.
Mr Justice Timothy Holroyde told Grynhaus: “The nature of the offences involved a high degree of manipulative behaviour coupled with a refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing whatsoever. While I appreciate many years have passed, I am not minded to say here and now that no finding of dangerousness should be made.
“You have been convicted of these serious offences. A substantial prison sentence is inevitable.”
Sentencing is expected next month.
During the trial, Grynhaus’s father, Dayan Dovid Grynhaus — a senior rabbi in the London strictly Orthodox community — told the court that sexual abuse in the Charedi community was “traditionally something that should be dealt with as sin, not something to be reported to the police”.
Giving evidence in defence of his son, he was asked what punishment would be issued for sexual abuse by the Charedi community. He said: “It would be seen he was never in a position to repeat such things. Safeguards would be put in place. Punishment would be a good dressing down by the Beth Din.”
Following testimony from Rabbi Gershon Miller, a prominent Gateshead figure, that the defendant had admitted carrying out sexual abuse, Grynhaus suggested that the witness had been influenced by leaders in the strictly Orthodox community.
Grynhaus said: “The community has been split. The pressures are unprecedented. There are definitely those who support me and are against me on both sides — important rabbinical figures.
“Our community is led by rabbis. Rabbi [Shraga Feivel] Zimmerman is the boss in [the Charedi community in] Gateshead and if he tells you to do something, you have to listen.”
This week’s verdict ends a three-year saga in which Grynhaus fled to Israel to avoid prosecution. Having been deported back to the UK, he went on trial in February but the jury was unable to agree, and a retrial was ordered.
The case sparked a split in the Charedi community led by wealthy supporters of Grynhaus, who attacked rabbis for encouraging the victims to report the abuse.
But letters from leading British Charedi rabbis confirmed that reporting abuse was a religious obligation.
In one letter, distributed to the Charedi community, Dayan Chanoch Erhentreu, former head of the London Beth Din, wrote in Hebrew that “in cases such as this religious Jews are obligated to use the full power of law to rid our community of such disgusting acts which crush people and families”.
The Gateshead rav, Rabbi Zimmerman, seen as a major halachic authority in the UK and abroad, also testified in court for the prosecution against Grynhaus along with Rabbi Miller.
One therapist involved with victims within the Charedi community said that the case sent “the message to perpetrators that you cannot get away with this form of despicable act nor will it be brushed under the carpet.
“There is support from leading rabbis to report crimes where necessary.
“There are many people, having been sexually abused, who are living in guilt and in the shadows because of the shame that reporting these crimes can bring on themselves and their family.
“In a close-knit community, the impact on marriage prospects is difficult and understandable. I admire the victims and the rabbis in this case who have stood up to this.”
Rabbi Miller told the court that Mr Grynhaus had admitted the alleged offences and that he had said there had been “demons running through him”.
Also during the trial, Mr Grynhaus described his relationship with his wife of 27 years, Leah, as “fantastic”, adding: “Sex is the grease of marriage to keep things going.”
The court was told that he abided by strict Jewish laws, that televisions and newspapers were not allowed in his home and that the only secular literature in the house were Enid Blyton novels.
Use of the internet was also frowned upon because “all the world’s filth is available at the touch of a button”, he said.