Teacher Sex Abuse Molestation
As more accusers came forward, a former yeshiva teacher in Lakewood New Jersey abruptly changed pleas Monday in the middle of his trial, admitting he had sexually abused a boy he met while working as a camp counselor.
Rabbi Yosef Kolko pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment. The abuse occurred from August 2008 to February 2009. It ranged from fondling to oral sex and stopped when the boy told his father, who confronted Kolko.
The change in plea came several days after the the prosecutor’s office was contacted by two other victims who also accused Kolko of sexual assault, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Laura Pierro said.
The case may be a watershed for the prosecutor’s office and the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, which has in the past been reluctant to bring criminal matters to civil authorities, preferring instead to handle them through rabbinical courts and senior rabbis.
The father of the victim had originally taken the matter to rabbinical court. In the Orthodox community it is considered heretical, if not blasphemous, to take legal matters outside the community. But after a few months, he was unsatisfied with how the case was being handled and that Kolko was still teaching.
It was only after the father found out that Kolko was going to be allowed to teach at a summer sleepover camp that he approached the Lakewood prosecutor’s office.
As a result, the family was ostracized by the Orthodox Jewish community. The Asbury Park Press reported that a flier was circulated within a large Lakewood Orthodox Jewish community, saying the boy’s father had made a mockery of the Torah and committed a “terrible deed” by taking the case to state prosecutors.
Pierro, the prosecutor, claims that the father made a “historic step” in the Orthodox community by taking the accusations to her office but admits that, “there certainly are members of the community who remain outspoken against what the father did on behalf of his son.”
The conviction may be historic in the Orthodox community, but it remains a painful reminder that the scourge of child sex abuse – and the inexcusable failure of adults to do all they can to protect the victims – is not limited to the Catholic Church.
Penn State tolerated Jerry Sandusky raping children because it was more scared of the damage that might be done to the school’s reputation. Orthodox leaders were reluctant to take action against Kolko out of fear of embarrassing the community.
In every case of suspected child abuse, it is imperative that the facts be reported to the authorities and prosecutors be allowed to investigate. The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Orthodox leaders in Lakewood all failed this test. Because of that justice was delayed and more children were put at risk because predators were allowed to remain free.
It is rare that an adult driven to abuse children will stop at one victim. It continues until someone puts a stop to it.
In the end, it is not about religion or football. It is about the sexual abuse of children. That should never be tolerated, under any circumstance.
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Teacher Sex Abuse Molestation