Of all the subjects one could think of to write about this week’s Torah portion, the article focussed on some vague connection to the Torah’s teachings about ‘separating oneself from sexual immorality’ and ‘exercising self-restraint’ when it comes to sexual relations. This, from an author who married Cyprys after his arrest on dozens of child sexual abuse charges, stood by him while he pleaded not guilty at his rape trial, publicly defended him and attacked his rape victim on my Facebook page.
I acknowledge that Coleman, her children and step-children have also suffered immensely because of Cyprys’ conduct and do not deserve to be judged on account of their association. That is not my intention here. But I would be surprised if both Coleman and Werdiger did not foresee how absurd, triggering to victims/survivors and unnecessarily hurtful it would be for them to send this out. What are they trying to say? Why would Werdiger publish the thoughts on ‘sexual immorality’ of someone who has married and defended a child rapist? Is the implication that child rape is not considered ‘sexual immorality’?
What makes this all the more distressing to victims/survivors is that like Coleman, Werdiger has a history of minimising the crimes of the pedophile in his family, Velvel Serebryanski (aka Zev Sero). Werdiger has attacked me for outing Serebryanski as a pedophile and argued that his poor cousin is just ‘messed up’. Over the years, Werdiger has been the subject of numerous complaints from victims/survivors of child sexual abuse regarding his behavior towards them. Was this latest incident intended to be another cheap shot at victims/survivors, this time mixed in with Torah teachings much like we’ve seen from the head rabbis of Melbourne Chabad's Yeshivah Centre?
Whatever the answer, the fact is that Werdiger has once again hurt victims/survivors and for that he must unequivocally apologise and explain himself. I look forward to reading his apology in next week's newsletter. Maybe one day, Werdiger or one of his guest writers will even have a 30 second thought about the Torah’s position on doing Teshuva (repentance) to those you have hurt, or on the accountability of leaders who behave terribly, or on how to treat victims of sexual assault... I could go on but it seems some people just get a kick out of hurting victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.