The former principal of Yeshivah College from the period that sex offenders David Cyprys and David Kramer were abusing students has resigned as a teacher at the school.
Rabbi Abraham Glick was the principal of Melbourne’s Yeshivah College between 1986 and 2007.
Asked at the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Abuse on Thursday whether he thought resigning from any remaining positions at the Yeshivah Centre “would assist the victims to move on from the wrongs of the past”, he said that, after much “soul searching”, he had decided to resign as a teacher.
“I resigned because I felt that [will help meet the] needs of the victims that would want me to resign.
“In the interim… I will resign from any positions that I hold in the Yeshivah College. I [have] resigned from any association with the school because that’s where the abuse took place and it was under my leadership. I haven’t taken this lightly.”
The rabbi, who is still the head of Yeshivah Centre’s spiritual leadership, Vaad Ruchni, said he would also review his position there in light of the royal commission’s findings.
Senior Sydney Rabbi Yosef Feldman resigned as a director of Yeshiva’s board of management after his testimony on Wednesday.
On Thursday Rabbi Glick also denied victims’ claims that he knew they had been sexually abused by Cyprys years before he, Cyprys, had been convicted of his crimes. Rabbi Glick said he only learned of this close to Cyprys’ conviction in 2011. Cyprys is serving a five-year, six-month sentence for indecent assault charges against children from when he was involved in Yeshivah Centre’s sporting, educational, religious and youth programs.
- Being told by a victim – known as AVR – and AVR’s mother in 1991 of his abuse: “I think if it did occur I would’ve remembered.” Though he believed AVR was abused, Rabbi Glick said he did not remember AVR as a student of the school.
- Cancelling AVR’s scholarship at Yeshivah College. Rabbi Glick said he had never dealt with students’ scholarships when he was principal because “I didn’t want my opinion of students to be influenced by financial matters. I just didn’t know who was on a scholarship.”
- Speaking with Zephanniah Waks, father of another victim, Manny, about his demands that Cyprys be excluded from Yeshivah’s grounds. Rabbi Glick said Mr Waks had only complained that Cyprys continued to be employed by Yeshiva because he believed he was gay, as homosexuality was prohibited under their Orthodox Jewish beliefs.
A number of victims have also told the Commission they told former head of the Yeshivah Centre and Melbourne’s Chabad community, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, that they had been abused in the 1980s. But Rabbi Glick said Rabbi Groner, who died in 2008, had only ever discussed sexual abuse claims with him twice – in 2004 and 2008 – in the many decades they had worked together.
Rabbi Glick apologised to victims, saying he felt “sickened” that they had been abused under his watch.
“I see that many mistakes were made. We should’ve been more vigilant. We should’ve responded better. I think that from 2007 we started that process. And today things are very different.”
Under cross-examination by AVR’s lawyer, Dr Kristine Hanscombe, QC, he conceded he had never before personally apologised to victims or offered them any help.
Rabbi Glick also revealed:
- Yeshivah College established its first policy on responding to child sexual-abuse claims in his last year as a principal in 2007, despite mandatory reporting laws being introduced in Victoria in 1994.
- He believed schools’ were only mandatorily required to report abuse claims from 2005, despite this being a condition of public funding for the school.
- In 2007, he received formal training on child sexual abuse for the first time.
- Students told him at one point that Cyprys had keys to all classrooms from when he was employed as a locksmith.
The hearing continues.