Yoel Oberlander was arrested and charged with groping a sleeping woman aboard a flight from Israel to New Jersey in May. This unfortunate story has many important lessons and highlights the dire need for the work done by JCW.
In 2002 Oberlander was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl in Monsey, New York. Despite the severity of his crimes, Oberlander did not serve any time in prison. He was sentenced to six years of probation and was classified as a Level 2 Sex Offender, which is considered a moderate risk of becoming a repeat offender (as opposed to level three which is considered high risk and faces more stringent restrictions.)
It is commonly believed that powerful fixers in the Monsey community used their influence to persuade the Rockland County DA to let Oberlander off with a light sentence and a reduced sex offender classification.
In 2012 Oberlander was back in the news again. While acting as a deliveryman, he was arrested after he was caught sneaking into buildings where kids were sleeping in Camp Shalva – a Bobov camp in South Fallsburg, New York. The exact circumstances of the case are still not clear, but it is widely believed that a cover-up took place.
Survivors for Justice received reports at the time that boys were touched by Oberlander, and told not to call their parents.
Camp directors waited about 35 hours before calling a criminal lawyer, who advised them to alert authorities.
“An immediate report would have protected kids in other camps where this driver was making deliveries that day and the next,” complained SFJ spokesman Ben Hirsch at the time. “We hope the children were not pressured into changing their stories.”
In the end, Oberlander was only charged with trespassing.
It is unfortunate, but hardly surprising, that Oberlander was arrested again for molesting a woman on a plane.
Child sex offenders have an extremely high rate of recidivism. It is for that reason that JCW maintains a Wall of Shame and sends out safety alerts when we get information that a sex offender has moved.
We are often asked why, after a sexual deviant has done their time, we don’t let him or her get on with their lives. This is a clear example of why. The Jewish community around the world has to be aware of sex offenders because the justice system only protects our children to a certain point.
This is also an example of the damage that “machers”, political fixers and rabbonim cause when they cover up abuse, pressure victims not to testify or use their political influence to get light sentences. Simply put, they are directly responsible when children are raped or abused.
Child molesters should not be ‘handled internally,” they should not be given sweetheart deals, and they should not be reported to rabbis. They must be reported immediately to the authorities and the full weight of the law must be brought to bear against them.
It is more than likely that Oberlander has more victims. JCW asks that anybody who was abused by Yoel Oberlander call the police or contact JCW at [email protected] or 718-841-7056.