An Australian rabbi has claimed that gay people and paedophiles could be “cured” by therapy during an inquiry into child abuse at an Orthodox Jewish centre.
Rabbi Zvi Telsner, a leader at the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne, told the commission that spiritual guidance could help both groups “change their way of life”.
“There is 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 the person may have been able to change his way of life,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) quoted Rabbi Telsner as saying regarding paedophiles.
“I’m saying through therapy, and through counselling, and if you see that over the last 20 odd years the person has been able to control themselves being among children, the possibility (is) that he is in control of himself.”
When asked during Friday’s session whether he held the same views for homosexuality, he said: “I would say the same thing could happen to someone who was gay, I would suspect.”
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse has launched a number of investigations into schools, sports clubs and religious groups.
The probe into the Yeshivah Centre, and other Jewish schools and centres in Melbourne and Sydney, is examining how they handled allegations of abuse dating back to the 1980s.
Last week, the inquiry heard the organisation attempted to “cure” a serial sex offender, David Cyprys, and continued to employ him more than 20 years after victims reported his attacks.
He is currently serving a prison sentence for raping a 15-year-old boy and sexually assaulting eight others.
The commission’s website says it is investigating the Yeshivah Centre and College’s response to allegations against Cyprys, David Kramer and Aaron Kestecher.
Two rabbis associated with the group have resigned from their posts since the start of the investigation.
Public hearings for the Yeshivah inquiry have finished but investigations continue.