Child Sex Abuse Claims Divide Orthodox Community

NEW YORK (AP) - It started as a radio program discussion about a
taboo subject: child molestation among members of the insular world
of Orthodox Jews.

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind says since he broached the
subject on his radio show this summer, dozens of people have come
forward with stories about children being molested in the Orthodox
community, which strictly follows Jewish law.

He says as many as four people a day have come to him over the past three months with painful accounts of secrets often kept for decades. He says more than 60 people have been accused.

The lawmaker, himself an Orthodox Jew, says he would eventually
consider unmasking accused sexual predators but wants to focus now
on setting up a broader framework for addressing the issue.

His campaign has set off a firestorm in the Orthodox community, where people are reluctant to involve secular authorities. One rabbi said he got death threats for speaking out.

Critics have said sex abuse claims are sometimes handled quietly in Orthodox rabbinical courts, rather than being reported to
authorities.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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