The head rabbi of Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre has told the royal commission into child sexual abuse he believes a gay person can be “cured” by therapy, like a paedophile.
Rabbi Zvi Telsner told the commission he believed there was a possibility paedophiles could be cured by counselling and spiritual guidance.
When asked if therapy could do the same for someone who is gay, he replied: “I would say the same thing can happen to someone who is gay, I would suspect. There is a possibility, I’m not discounting that”.
Rabbi Telsner said therapy could help paedophiles change their behaviour.
“There’s a certain belief that if someone for example after 20 or 25 years has not committed any offences, and all of this time has gone to therapy, there would be a good possibility that person may have been able to change his way of life,” he said.
“If you see that over the last 20-odd years the person has been able to control themselves being amongst children, there would be a possibility that he is in control of himself.”
Rabbi denies besmirching child abuse victims
The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse is examining how Jewish schools in Melbourne and Sydney have handled allegations of child sexual abuse since the 1980s.
Last week, the inquiry heard Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre tried to “cure” serial sex offender David Cyprys and continued to employ him more than 20 years after victims reported he had sexually abused them.
Rabbi Telsner denied besmirching victims of child sexual abuse in two sermons he delivered in 2011.
The sermons were allegedly directed at a victim who gave evidence to the inquiry under the alias, AVB, and whistleblower Manny Waks.
Both said they and their families had been shunned and subjected to ongoing bullying and intimidation for speaking out.
Rabbi Telsner accepted he could have corrected misconceptions about his preaching four years ago, after being accused of standing by and letting them fester.
“I don’t believe it was in the wake of my sermons, and if any of my sermons caused them to believe that, I apologise profusely and regret that anyone took that message that I was meaning them,” he said.
The Rabbi denied starting a community campaign to shun those who spoke out, but accepted he was complicit because he did not preach against it.
AVB was sexually assaulted at the age of 10 by convicted child abusers Daniel Hayman and David Cyprys in the 1980s, but he remained silent for 20 years.
Manny Waks went public in 2011 with allegations he was repeatedly sexual abused as a boy at Yeshivah College and accusations of a cover-up.