Rabbi didn't stop fleeing abuse suspect
5 February 2015
A senior Australian rabbi told a suspected child sex offender he wouldn't hold him back if he tried to leave the country.
The head of the Chabad Jewish community in NSW, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, says he didn't think it his responsibility to notify police that the man intended leaving Australia or that he did so within 48 hours of a complaint being made.
The rabbi gave evidence on Thursday to the royal commission investigating responses by institutions, in this case Yeshiva Bondi in Sydney, to reports of child sexual abuse.
Rabbi Feldman says he met with the suspect, known as AVL, the day after an abuse complaint over an incident at a synagogue camp in 2002.
When AVL suggested he had a ticket to leave Australia for America, Rabbi Feldman says he told him 'we are not holding you back'.
Rabbi Feldman told the Melbourne hearing he wasn't aware he had any procedural obligations to notify police or other authorities of AVL's plans.
'My thought process was that if it would be established that he actually committed a crime, the police would be able to extradite him,' he told the hearing, which is also investigating sexual abuse reports in the Yeshiva Melbourne community.
'I did not believe that I had that obligation.'
'If this is something that should have been done then this is an error of judgment.'
The commission earlier heard Rabbi Feldman had no recollection of warning another man later convicted of abuse to stay away from boys in the 1980s.
Daniel Hayman, who was last year convicted of child sex offences from 1987, told police he had been warned by Rabbi Feldman and Rabbi Boruch Lesches to stay away from young boys at Yeshiva Bondi after allegations were raised.
'I categorically deny I ever spoke to him about this topic,' Rabbi Feldman said.
Rabbi Feldman ended his evidence with a statement saying it broke his heart to hear of the suffering abuse victims and their families had endured.
But he refused to condemn the words of his wife, Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman, when she referred to abuse victim Manny Waks as a phoney attention seeker.
'I'm responsible for my own position, my own views,' he said'Those that don't want to accept it, thank God we are living in a free country.'
Originally published at Sky News.