At the time, I posted that he was a liar and invited him to sue me for defamation if that was untrue. Of course, he won't be doing that any time soon.
As we all know, Kluwgant was caught at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse's public hearing sending a text message attacking my family and shifting blame to my father for the sexual abuse of three of his children at the Yeshivah Centre (which he initially said he couldn't recall sending), and was accused of telling another victim not to engage with police. He rightly lost several senior professional and communal positions.
After the Royal Commission, it emerged that this was part of a wider pattern of behaviour by Kluwgant in which he repeatedly, knowingly and falsely attacked people's families and abused his positions of authority when dealing with matters relating to child sexual abuse. This was his modus operandi.
Here is a story, most of which is included in my book.
In 2014, a year before the Royal Commission, I was approached by an individual who claimed that he had been raped by former Yeshivah Principal, Rabbi Abraham Glick, while attending Yeshivah. I assisted this individual in the same way I would assist anybody who approached me with such allegations. As the matter progressed, Rabbi Glick was questioned by police who did not have enough evidence at the time to charge him. Subsequently Rabbi Glick sued me for defamation, and the matter was settled out of court with a public apology on my part (as was noted in my book, and with the authorisation of Rabbi Glick, it was a technical apology in order to resolve the matter between us).
In response, Kluwgant, Glick’s nephew who occupied the role of President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV), immediately issued a public statement condemning me on behalf of the RCV which stated in part: ‘The RCV notes with concern that the publication of the defamatory matters over which he has apologised, has true capacity to cause untold harm to individuals, their family members, and to the whole of the community’. ‘The RCV reiterates its long-held position that victims and individuals with credible information about child sexual abuse should take these matters to the police and other relevant authorities.’
RCV Media Release:
2 April 2014
The RCV welcomes the recent apology and retraction issued by Mr Manny Waks for posting false and inaccurate statements about an individual in our community on the Tzedek website and in the social media.
Mr Waks has admitted that he believes that this individual was completely innocent of these allegations at all times.
The RCV notes with concern that the publication of the defamatory matters over which he has apologised, has true capacity to cause untold harm to individuals, their family members, and to the whole of the community.
The RCV would urge Mr Waks and the Board of Tzedek to give serious consideration to his position, as well as the practises that led to the publication of those damaging and defamatory comments.
The RCV reiterates its long-held position that victims and individuals with credible information about child sexual abuse should take these matters to the police and other relevant authorities.
Kluwgant was then challenged by a supporter of mine who sent an email to him and a number of members of the RCV asking, among other things, why the RCV was involving itself in a private civil dispute between two members of the community who had nothing to do with the RCV, whether Kluwgant had been involved in the issuing of the RCV statement given his obvious conflict and whether the RCV was prepared to comment on the conduct of Rabbi Glick or Yeshivah in protecting paedophiles and covering up child sexual abuse. Not surprisingly, my friend did not receive an adequate response.
Fast forward to early 2015 and in the days immediately following the Royal Commission, after the entire community and Rabbinate had seen Kluwgant’s true character exposed, my friend received a phone call from a rabbi on the RCV.
“You remember that email you sent to us a year ago after we put out a statement on the Glick allegations?” he said. “I want to tell you what Kluwgant did. He forwarded that email to me and others and falsely stated that a close member of your family used to be a teacher and had sexually abused students and therefore we should ignore everything you have to say because you associate with paedophiles.”
“I know that is untrue,” the Rabbi continued, “and I will give you all of the evidence you need to sue Kluwgant because he is unfit to be a rabbi.”
At least when an allegation is made publicly, the person has the opportunity to defend themselves. When the allegation is made behind someone’s back, as Kluwgant prefers to do, the person is not afforded that chance. For Kluwgant to have acted so hypocritically and irreligiously only hours after issuing a public statement about the harm caused by false allegations speaks volumes of his character.
But the story gets worse. A few days later, and literally a week after the conclusion of the Royal Commission, my friend received a phone call by coincidence (or as we were taught in Chabad: HaShgochoh Protis/Divine Providence) from Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, Kluwgant’s first cousin and current President of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand. Rabbi Glasman said that Kluwgant was feeling extremely remorseful after the events of the Royal Commission and wanted to make things right with people. He asked if my friend could come over to Kluwgant’s house that evening as Kluwgant wanted to smooth things over. My friend immediately agreed. Rabbi Glasman did not know that my friend had been provided with a copy of the defamatory email which Kluwgant had sent, and Kluwgant did not know that my friend had a copy of it with him when he went to his house that evening.
Kluwgant invited my friend inside and they sat down. Kluwgant began, “I have heard on the grapevine that you have some issues with me and I just want to make it absolutely clear that I have never done anything to give you or your family any reason to be upset with me.”
Stunned, my friend replied, “please think very carefully about that statement as I don’t want you to tell me in a minute that I haven’t given you every opportunity to come clean if there is anything you want to get off your chest.”
“I swear to you, I have never done anything to you or your family,” Kluwgant continued.
My friend took the email out of his pocket and showed it to Kluwgant. “Oh my gosh,” Kluwgant said. “How did you get that? It was supposed to be confidential!”
Kluwgant started crying and begged forgiveness. He said his life had been ruined, his son was getting married soon and he was about to become a grandfather. He asked whether they could just tear up the email and pretend it never happened. My friend told him that he was a “fucking liar and a fraud” and that it was like he had just watched the Royal Commission again.
My friend sued Kluwgant for defamation and the matter settled out of court with Kluwgant admitting that he had not believed the allegations he made to be true and being forced to tell everyone to whom he had made the false allegations that he was a liar.
“The RCV did not authorise and would not authorise such conduct and disavows and distances itself from (Rabbi) Kluwgant’s conduct and condemns it in the strongest possible terms.’
As any expert will tell you, administering a child safe organisation and navigating the challenges which can arise in dealing with issues around child safety and mandatory reporting, requires a certain level of integrity and honesty. Kluwgant has shown time and again that he is unfit and that children, and staff would not be safe in an environment in which he was Principal.
It is my sincere hope and understanding that even without the above information, the Adass community will remove Kluwgant when they meet shortly. The endorsement of Rabbi Beck, which Kluwgant claims to have, appears to have been procured by certain members of the Adass Board without fully informing the Rabbi of Kluwgant's history. Of course, fully appraised of Kluwgant’s history, no institution could ever consider him for a leadership role, particularly one involving children.
When this lunacy is over, I will again offer Kluwgant the opportunity to do teshuvah (repentance) and to understand the nature of his conduct, just as I did after the Royal Commission. Hopefully next time he will take me up on it.
Once he has done that, I will be the first to wish him all the best in furthering his career.