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More cases of alleged sexual abuse in Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox community

Michael Visontay
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Published: 29 November 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Police have received three more reports from families of students at Cheder Levi Yitzchok, alleging children exposed to sexualised behaviour.

A further three cases of sexualised behaviour involving children at the Cheder Levi Yitzchok in St Kilda were reported to Victorian police last week, bringing the total number to eight.

The Jewish Independent has been told that last Friday, November 25, police interviewed two boys who were reporting incidents of alleged sexualised behaviour by another student at the school.

One boy gave a statement about the alleged abuse he suffered and also the alleged abuse suffered by two infant girls. Another boy, who had previously given a statement, added further details about the abuse he allegedly suffered.

Child sexual abuse advocacy group VoiCSA told The Jewish Independent that it accompanied the complainants to police and assisted them in making their reports.

According to VoiCSA, the three incidents did not take place at the school but were allegedly perpetrated by a student from the school while attending a bar mitzvah at the Yeshivah Centre in May 2021 (in respect of the male victim), and at a private residence in September 2021 (in respect of the two female victims).

Asked for comment about the new reports, Victorian police told The Jewish Independent that “this is an ongoing investigation and we won’t be commenting further”.

The school has about 100 students – from the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement – from prep to Year 8.

VoiCSA told The Jewish Independent it knows of approximately 30 victims/survivors and their families who have allegedly been impacted by the same perpetrator, a student of the Cheder Levi Yitzchok school.

In September, The Jewish Independent Media reported that the incidents are understood to have involved an older child engaging in sexual acts with younger children against their will. The incidents did not involve any teachers. At the time, police said their investigations into these five incidents had closed.

The student was removed from the school and attended a therapy program. The Jewish Independent approached the principal of Cheder Levi Yitzchok, Eliezer Kornhauser, for clarification over whether the student had resumed attending classes but did not receive a reply.

Earlier this month, The Age reported that Mr Kornhauser had responded to parents’ concerns by telling families that the best protection for their children was to pray and perform religious rituals.

Kornhauser told parents via email that “the situation for the school and parents is anything but perfect” and that some were engaging in “unproductive and occasionally hysterical conjecture”, The Age reported.

He also told parents they should put the ultimate trust of their children’s safety in their faith, not in secular society or laws.

Photo: Cheder Levi Yitzchok (Vimeo)

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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