(photo credit: Courtesy)
Manny Waks, the founder and former head of Australian sexual abuse victims’ advocacy group Tzedek, praised the Melbourne’s King David School for its handling of allegations that one its teachers had acted in an inappropriate manner with students.
Australian Jewry was recently shaken by revelations that leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community had covered up incidents of sexual abuse in their schools.
The Australian rabbinate split into two bodies when the full extent of this concealment came to light during a royal commission into institutional responses to sexual abuse earlier this year.
According to the Herald Sun
, a “top Jewish school,” subsequently identified as the progressive King David School, contacted the police regarding what it termed “possible inappropriate conduct” between a teacher and students. The teacher, who was subsequently suspended while the school conducted an investigation into the matter, was also alleged to have sent “innuendo”-filled Facebook messages to erstwhile students. The teacher subsequently quit.
Parents of students who spoke with the Australian newspaper said that they were concerned that the teacher in question has tried to “groom” female students, presumably to later take advantage of them and the police, stating that they had evidence of no illegal activities, left the school to take care of the matter on its own.
Writing on his website, Waks, who is in Israel to take part in a conference on child sexual abuse organized by the US based Jewish Community Watch and Magen, its Israeli counterpart, stated that he believed that both the principal and the school had “acted responsibly at all times and took (and continue to take) appropriate actions to address these allegations.”
“It is important to emphasize that there have not been any allegations of sexual abuse,” he added.
The principal, Marc Light, “has acknowledged that during the investigation the school identified a gap in its current child protection policy. This gap relates to when allegations are made by former students at the school. Mr. Light has noted that the school is in the process of rectifying this issue.”
Waks himself was abused on several occasions by two different men while attending the a Melbourne Chabad school and has been a vocal critic of the lack of response to abuse among the Chabad community in Australia.