Students denounce sex-crime allegations against rabbi

The release of the petition followed news that 'Yediot Aharonot' will print a report on the allegations leveled by former students.

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October 22, 2010 03:12
3 minute read.
Rabbi Elon

Rabbi Mordechai Elon 58. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Hundreds of former students of prominent national religious Rabbi Mordechai “Moti” Elon have signed a petition this week defending their former teacher against claims that he sexually abused students in the past.

The release of the petition followed news that Yediot Aharonot will this weekend print a report on the allegations leveled against Elon by his former students, charges believed to have been partially leaked to the newspaper by Takana, a forum of national-religious rabbis that handles complaints of sexual abuse by leaders in the community.

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“We, the students of Rabbi Mordechai Elon, were amazed to hear that this Friday a full article will be printed, full of defamations and denigrations, lacking any truth whatsoever, against our teacher and rabbi Mordechai Elon,” the petition reads.

“For all of the years that we were fortunate enough to study under Rabbi Elon, we never encountered, saw or heard of any sort of exploitative or inappropriate behavior by the rabbi towards his students, or any complaints against him from his students.’ The petition closes with the line that “even chutzpah and depravity have their limits.”

On their website this week, the Takana forum published a response to a letter entitled “Rabbi Moti Elon – the real story,” attributed to a rabbi and educator named Yossi Greenfield, and has been circulating on the Internet in recent months.

Takana says the letter “does not contain the real story” and is full of distortions meant to cast doubt on the credibility of Takana and “throw sand in the eyes of the public.” The statement explains that Takana received a complaint in July 2005 from a married 30-yearold man who said he and an additional man were sexually assaulted by Elon on multiple occasions when they were young men. Takana added that they brought Elon in for questioning, where he admitted to the allegations.



The letter also says that in June 2006, the forum received a document from a former student of Elon containing far more serious allegations.

Takana said that Elon again confessed to the allegations, but claimed that the complainant was emotionally distressed, and that the relationship was consensual and not exploitative.

The Greenfield letter contends that the forum never adequately investigated the allegations against the rabbi before deciding that he was guilty of wrongdoing, and that accusers were coerced by the forum into making complaints against Elon. It also claims that Elon did not believe he was guilty and resigned willfully in order to avoid a media storm.

The document also attempts to portray one of Elon’s alleged victims as “a sexually obsessive and mentally distraught boy.”

Greenfield’s letter adds, “After months of laboring to find some sort of suspicious claim, they came across someone who claims Rabbi Elon kissed him on neck and pulled him toward him. Anyone who knows Rabbi Elon knows without a doubt that this is normative behavior for the Rabbi and bears no sexual connotation.

The police have decided to press charges and try Rabbi Elon for a kiss on the neck, and I do not know whether to laugh or cry.”

Greenfield also states that the forum never bothered to interview certain witnesses who could hurt the case against Elon.

Takana member and Petach Tikvah Yeshivat Hesder Rabbi Yuval Cherlov said that the forum published the letter on their website about the allegations because of the importance of maintaining public trust in their work, according to a post on his own site this week.

“We had no choice but to go to the public with the facts that completely contradict Yossi Greenfield’s letter,” Cherlov wrote, adding that the letter harmed public faith in the forum and that Takana’s continued silence “would make us incapable of carrying out our duties from here on out.”

In August, police announced that they have sufficient evidence to press charges against Elon following the completion of a nearly six-month investigation of complaints leveled against him.

The allegations include forceful sexual molestation and charges of sexual molestation against at least two minors.

The decision to open the investigation came after Takana published a letter on their website demanding that Elon step down from all teaching and rabbinical duties following allegations of sexual abuse.

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