Rabbinical forum says indictment doesn't affect Elon review

Sexual abuse watchdog concerned with ethical, not legal issues.

Rabbi Mordechai Elon 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Rabbi Mordechai Elon 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The police’s announcement on Sunday that there was enough evidence to pursue sex crimes charges against Rabbi Mordechai “Moti” Elon was greeted with a measured response by members of a rabbinical forum that fights sexual abuse by religious leaders, a member of the forum told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Rabbi David Stav said the Takana forum does not review allegations of sexual impropriety on a criminal or legal level, and therefore the police announcement would have no impact on its recommendations regarding Elon.
“We aren’t influenced by the police; even if they said there is no evidence for him to stand trial, it wouldn’t affect us. They deal with issues of law and the penal code; we deal with ethical issues only,” Stav said.
In February, Takana posted a warning on its Web site demanding that Elon cease all teaching, rabbinical and community activities, saying he poses a threat to the public.
Two days later, Takana posted a statement that said that Elon stood accused of having sexual relations with male students.
Takana sees itself as a venue in which allegations of wrongdoing that would probably not make their way to the police are addressed, and through which those accused of impropriety are kept away from members of the public. The forum was founded because many in the religious community are not willing to turn to the police, and also because some ethical violations would not be considered criminal violations by police.
“In a lot of the cases we deal with, people wouldn’t be willing to speak to the police, and it isn’t clear that the police would be able to do anything, because in may cases what we say is wrong or unethical isn’t always illegal or seen as sexual abuse by the law, but from the ethical perspective we see it as wrong,” Stav said.
“We only deal with issues that people don’t want to go to the police about. We are not trying to replace the police; we are part of this country. What we do is that when we see there are complaints about a teacher or a rabbi’s behavior, we try to prevent the next case from happening, by informing the community and preventing the accused from staying in his community position.
After Takana’s publication of the warning against Elon, the forum was the subject of much criticism for going after a revered member of the national-religious community, to which the forum belongs. Stav said the police announcement might help change people’s minds.
“Obviously those who said we made these allegations up are wrong and the police announcement strengthens the fact that we didn’t make it up,” he said.
“I’m sure there are many people who are still angry at Takana and I can’t blame them, but I think that the number of people who are angry at Takana has been reduced and will continue to fall. At the beginning there was much criticism, but after people realized that we didn’t make these stories up out of the blue and that rabbis came to us to check what we are doing, I think that most of them were pleased.”
Stav is the chief rabbi of Shoham and the spokesman for the Hesder Yeshiva system. He is a former education leader of the flagship Or Etzion yeshiva.
The allegations against Elon include forceful sexual molestation, and sexual molestation of at least two minors.
Police said Sunday they will pass the investigative file against Elon to the Jerusalem District branch of the State Attorney’s Office.
Elon’s attorney Yair Golan said on Monday that the police announcement had not significantly changed things for him and his client.
“After the announcement he told me: I believe in my innocence, I am strong, and I will fight this,” Golan said.