A Real Tragedy
©2010 by David Talbot
Metro-Phoenix, Arizona. The Phoenix Jewish News, in a story published March 26th, tells of a local beloved Rabbi being arrested in the parking lot of his synagogue for the rape of a seven year old girl, in 2000. The details of the alleged rape are not revealed, and neither is the question as to why the young woman waited until 2009 to report the incident.
The Rabbi has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chandler, a few miles Southeast of Phoenix, since August 2006. The President of the synagogue, as quoted in the Phoenix Jewish News, made the following comment regarding the arrest: “We’re mortified by the allegations. It is our goal to make sure that our community stays whole. …We take very seriously the safety of our children and our members.”
Here’s what’s bothering me. If he did the crime, he’ll do the time. But I was totally shocked that the congregation didn’t give any indication of support for the Rabbi or his family. There is a concept in American Jurisprudence that everyone is innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law.
I have no sympathy for child molesters. But I do believe in fair play. Nine years is a long time for someone to recall events and places accurately, especially someone who was only 7 years old at the time the alleged incident occurred. The Rabbi was living and working using his legal name in a highly public profession. And, there has been no indication of unusual behavior, or warning signs, since 2000, reported by the authorities.
Perhaps the authorities have evidence to support the allegations, which will be presented in court. Perhaps he actually did the crime. Perhaps he may found guilty of an offense at some time in the future. If so, it (the rape) would be a real tragedy and he would deserve the max. However, until that time, I wish the congregation would consider a public addition to their statement to include something outlining all the good he has done in the Chandler Jewish Community. This would not be an acceptance of any prior bad act, but an acknowledgement of his good work. Even if he is found innocent of all charges, his reputation is all but destroyed and that too is a real tragedy.
Anyway, that is my opinion.