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Religious Sex Abuse: Beyond the Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal

  • January 16, 2019
  • KBA Attorneys
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We have written about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal previously. While the Catholic Church continues addressing sex abuse allegations against it, other religious groups have faced and continue to face similar allegations of sex abuse. In Baltimore City, Maryland, for example, sexual abuse allegations have been made against Rabbi Steven Krawatsky. He was fired based on “explosive details from the three cases published in January by a Jewish newspaper in New York.” As the Baltimore Sun reported, “Krawatsky denies the allegations. He has filed a federal defamation lawsuit against the parents of his accusers and a New York activist who has spoken publicly about the case and is working with the families’ lawyer.”

This summer, HAARETZ reported that a reported stated “Legendary Orthodox Rabbi Aware of Sexual Abuse of Children.” The article noted that “Report by Ramaz Academy says Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who officiated at Ivanka Trump’s wedding and ran the school for 50 years, was aware of misconduct.” The Report to the Special Committee of the Board of Trustees of Ramaz set forth the scope and findings of an investigation in response to “allegations that, while employed at another Jewish day school, Stanley Rosenfeld sexually abused a student. Rosenfeld was employed at Ramaz in the early 1970s.

Such reports are not limited to Baltimore. For example, Village Voice reported allegations in 2011 and the New York Times reported concerns in 2012 stating, “Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse” These issues have also extended beyond religious figures, including therapists.

In addition to the Jewish community, the Baptist community has seen 100s of abuse allegations as well as reported in December. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram finds 400 allegations against 168 leaders spanning almost 200 churches and institutions. The Report provides detailed accounts from survivors. Survivors in Texas have accused Islamic religious leaders of sex abuse as well as in Chicago. Of course, these issues are not limited to these groups or the United States; spiritual leader, Prem Baba, has been accused of sexual abuse too.

The attorneys at KBA include partner Brian Ketterer who was a prosecutor in Philadelphia. Our attorneys have worked on sex abuse and related human trafficking cases. We have published several articles on these topics, including in peer-reviewed journals. Sex abuse is not limited to human trafficking, it occurs in nursing homes and other residential facilities as well, including multiple women in Arizona raped and impregnated while in vegetative states. Without religious communities, sex abuse is not limited to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Unfortunately, other religious groups have struggled with this issue as well.