At first, a victim of a child molesting Jewish counselor wanted to sue the perpetrator and United Synagogue Youth, the agency that employed him.
He pledged to donate any settlement or award to Jewish groups that fight sexual abuse.
He then changed his mind, believing that “no amount of money” could provide what he was really seeking — a public reckoning from USY — so he pulled out of the lawsuit.
Instead, he contacted The Times of Israel, “hoping that media exposure would compel the youth movement to publicly explain how and why it continued to allow an alleged abuser access to its adolescent members for years” and then, after being explicitly notified of the allegations in 2017, “allowed (the accused predator) to continue working as the executive director of a Long Island synagogue until last year.”
At this point, some kudos are in order.
First, we commend this brave survivor for considering a lawsuit. That’s a tough step to ponder and even tougher, of course, to do.
Second, we applaud him for helping to expose this predator and his enablers in the news media. Again, even thinking of this possibility makes most survivors very nervous. It takes real courage to follow through.
Third, we praise him for changing his mind after clarifying his goals. It’s crucial, in our view, that survivors do what their hearts and minds tell them is best for them, not simply go along with someone else’s recommendation, no matter how well-intentioned or well-informed that someone else may be or may seem.
And this is also a good point to stress a fundamental fact: every single survivor copes with and recovers from childhood trauma in his or her unique way. There is no ‘one size fits all’ here. Some focus solely on self-care. Others pursue criminal prosecution. Others file lawsuits. Others seek a more low-key approach, contacting the predator’s employer.
But each and every survivor who takes a step AWAY FROM confusion, self-doubt and paralyzing inaction and TOWARD healing, prevention and justice deserves our utmost admiration and appreciation.
That said, we at Horowitz Law did cringe when we saw this survivor quoted as saying that his original intent, in pondering a lawsuit, was to “use this ‘dirty money’ to clean up a broken system.”
In our view, winning a jury award or accepting a settlement in no way involves “dirty money.”
If a military veteran accepts aid to go to college, is he or she using ‘dirty money’ or money that he or she rightfully earned by defending our nation?
If a laid off worker, who’s the sole breadwinner for a struggling family, accepts unemployment, is that ‘dirty money?”
People who have been wronged, especially in a deep, dark and devastating way, have every right to try to be ‘made whole.’
And needless to say, no one who was sexually violated as a youngster can ever be truly ‘made whole.’
But hundreds of thousands of child sex abuse victims across the world have moved in that direction by seeking and getting money from those who committed and concealed child sex crimes. Maybe to some, that money may seem in some way ‘dirty.’ But please don’t let any person’s opinion tarnish your effort – successful or not – to protect kids, achieve justice, expose criminals and deter cover ups.
So if you summoned the strength to step forward, put your trust in the courts, filed a lawsuit – – no matter what the outcome – – we at Horowitz Law hope you feel proud. Far from doing anything that anyone could ever consider ‘dirty,’ you have in fact made a bold, brave move towards cleaning up a societal scourge that can only be prevented and healed through speaking up.