But what do we do when such a person passes away? So, after much thought and deliberations, I share this blog post mainly because his direct brave victim/survivor wanted to share her story, for reasons outlined below. I know that not everyone will agree with this course of action, not least his family, friends and community. However, to me, as a victims’ advocate, exposing this injustice is the right thing to do. I would like to encourage anyone else who may have been sexually abused by Fox (or shared with him allegations of sexual abuse that he covered up) to feel free to contact me and I will endeavour to assist as best I can.
Relevant articles on the passing of Fox:
Community mourns ‘wonderful role model’
Rabbi Brian Fox AM
Rabbi Brian Fox AM: A leader of great influence
More tributes to Rabbi Brian Fox
The funeral of Rabbi Brian Fox: Where were the Orthodox rabbis?
Statement by the victim of (Rabbi) Fox:
Last week the person that changed my life for ever passed away. Many would think this statement will follow on with accolades, such as those that have appeared in a newspaper, but in fact it is the total opposite. This is the truth without the façade. I am not denying that in ways this person possibly did good, not that I can attest to any of that, but I am saying that he certainly did bad. For me his death is not something to be mourned, he is far from a wonderful role model. In the last week I have had gone through a mix of emotions triggered by his death, but none are of sadness or mourning.
He was in a position of power, a respected position with which came trust. Trust that this person was morally, ethically, religiously bound to do the right thing, especially of god’s children. However, he did not, he took advantage of a young vulnerable, naïve, by today’s standards, young girl (13yo). He sexually abused me. Whilst staying in his home. He convinced me to spend time in his bedroom. Which I believed was totally innocent, we were going to watch some TV and drink hot chocolate he prepared. He tricked me into moving closer and closer to him to gain a better view of the TV. When I was sitting in an uncomfortable position trying to see the screen, he persuaded me that it would be more comfortable and perfectly fine to lie next to him to watch the show. Then his penis noticeable grew and started to come out of the slit in his pyjama pants. It was first time I had ever seen an erect penis, I remember being totally grossed out by it (a feeling that has stayed with me). I can remember it all so well, as I write this, I can see all I have described vividly. Unfortunately, the rest is not at all so vivid, I believed I had been drugged. The next thing I remember is waking up in my own bed with blood on the sheets, that disappeared when I had a shower. It was not menstrual blood, I did not start menstruating for a few years after that.
One thing I do know he had a hand in was the billeting of teens from Sydney to Melbourne to attend the summer camps held by the temple. Whether that still occurs or not I do not know but I do know I was accused of being responsible for this program potentially ending when he screamed at me saying I was a slut and accused me of being the guilty party in what had occurred between us. All because mentally I could not take the person billeted with my family to the New Year’s Eve party as instructed. Why you might ask, well, because since he abused me I lost my faith, my happiness, my life had been torn down and destroyed by a person who was meant to be the one in my culture who one could totally trust. The conflict that occurred within me tore me away from all. My life totally changed I now hated my religion and I found the way to escape those memories in drugs. I met people I otherwise probably never would have and with them my life took a downward spiral. I was no longer connected to what numerous research highlights as a consistent factor missing in lives that experienced what mine has. For this I can totally say with no hesitation that the man that passed away last week changed my life forever.
I have read comments from many people on posts on Facebook, a couple of which I believe to be so true but probably not the way they were intended “he left his mark on the world“ and “a man who touched so many lives”. Research indicates that people like this don’t only do this once. I have met and spoken with one other person that stated he had acted totally inappropriately with her as a young teen by pulling down her underpants when she needed medical assistance for her knee. I have heard he did nothing when he had the sexual abuse of a child put to him and he blamed that victim for what occurred. This tells me he was far from “a great man indeed”. He was a paedophile.
Some might be asking themselves whilst reading this why I have left this till now, but I have not left this to now. For approximately 30 years my brain, as a way of coping with such traumatic memories, moved them to my subconscious. It was only one night after a close friend disclosed to me her childhood experiences of being abused that I awoke in the middle of the night screaming from a nightmare from those memories resurfacing. Once I managed to put it all back together, I tried to find him and discovered he was now in the UK. I contacted them in the hope of making sure no other young people were at risk of experiencing abuse at the hands of this man. They were extremely interested in what I had to say, each time we corresponded they repeatedly asked had I informed the police, I had not. Finally, one day I received an email stating they really appreciated being informed of what I had told them. They had questioned him, and he had denied it (as if he would have said he was guilty), however they hoped this would give me closure. Interestingly I found out not long after he was no longer at that synagogue and again had moved elsewhere. It reminds me of other cases where people have been moved on within the religious sector when allegations of paedophilia had surfaced.
I also have been to the police and made a statement. However, despite my detailed description of his house, the room where it occurred, a description of his body and the EXACT date it occurred, I was informed without others corroborating my story or other cases, my case was weak and although requested, he refused to come in to the police and answer questions.
Why do I think it is necessary that people still know now? The answer is twofold. Firstly, I believe it is so wrong that this person be honoured, be praised, be held in high esteem. I believe people deserve to know the truth, should know the truth. Maybe this, coupled with so much that has come out about religious people using their positions to take advantage of young children, will make people more vigilant and children will be afforded more chance to not be put in such positions. I also openly admit the other reason is selfish, I want and need the closure I have so unjustly not received, so I can move on even if marred by his despicable behaviour.
As hard as it has been to write this, which has taken basically 6 days and many emotions, sleepless nights and ill feelings, I hope it brings some positivity to not only myself and possibly others he abused but as I explained above to other children in the future.
2013 statement from the Union for Progressive Judaism (Australia):
It is with horror and great sadness that we have learned of allegations that acts of child sexual abuse were carried out by people employed within one of our congregations several decades ago. Our Movement has a zero tolerance with regard to such matters and we welcome and support any investigation into these allegations.
Any person who did suffer such abuse as a child will have carried the emotional and psychological burden of it throughout much of their lives. We can only hope that in sharing these experiences they will be able to receive support and assistance from the Tzedek group and that this will enable them to move forward with some sense of resolution and closure.
It is an unfortunate fact that no part of society is exempt from having some people who abuse their position of power and influence in order to achieve personal gain or, in such cases, to abuse young and vulnerable people. Without being able to comment on these particular incidents or the individuals involved we can only express the hope that a thorough investigation will be carried out and that if anyone is found to be guilty of such acts they should be appropriately punished.
If any good at all can come from such news it can only be as a reminder to all communal organisations that they must be totally vigilant in their efforts to protect those people trusted to their care, whether it is for a long period of time or for a few hours. Although we know that our member congregations and organisations are aware of their need to fulfill their duty of care we will be encouraging each of them to regularly review their policies and procedures and to ensure that they are rigorously enforced.
We take this opportunity to repeat our support for the work of Manny Waks and Tzedek in reaching out and helping victims of sexual abuse of children in the Jewish community and our commitment to work with them in partnership.