Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Ugliest Predators

Bashe was a 14 year old developmentally disabled girl who was referred to a religious psychotherapist by her school social worker. The social worker suspected that Bashe was being sexually abused by her father. The social worker told the therapist that Bashe had come to her in a very depressed and agitated mood which was not typical of her and spoke about her father "hurting" her. Bashe had also suddenly developed a fear of getting on the school bus to return home at the end of the day.
Due to Bashe's developmental challenges it was difficult for her to communicate verbally, but the therapist could see from her facial expression and her agitation that she was clearly distressed. She may not have been able to communicate well verbally, but Bashe's drawings spoke even louder than words could. She drew pictures of body parts that were damaged, of knives, of terror and of rage. The explicit sexual content of her drawings was not age appropriate; they weren't culturally appropriate either -  since she was raised in a  strictly insulated community under the leadership of a grand Rabbi. 
Bashie's father, Mr. Brown agreed to discuss his daughter with the therapist, but he denied that he was doinganything inappropriate with her. He was asked if he would be willing to submit to taking a polygraph test (a lie detector test). He took the test twice and failed it both times.
A few days later, Mr. Brown confessed to the therapist, a mandated reporter, that he was indeed living with his daughter as though she were his wife and felt that he had every right to do so. By this time, Mr. Brown had become so sick  that he actually believed in his own pathological claim to his daughter. He viewed his daughter as his "property" which he could do with as he pleased. Mr. Brown threatened to board a plane to Israel with his daughter if the therapist or anyone else would interfere with his relationship with Bashe.
The therapist called the police who went to pick up Mr. Brown, but he was nowhere to be found. People in the grand Rabbi's community were hiding Mr. Brown and he was still being allowed to have private contact with his daughter. According to the police, no one in the grand Rabbi's community was willing to help them stop this man from hurting his daughter. 
Eventually the police found and arrested Mr. Brown who spent a couple of nights in jail; it didn't take long for the community to raise the money for his release. The therapist was told by community leaders that Mr. Brown was no longer living with his daughter and his visits with her were being supervised. They also told the therapist that the cell phone that Mr. Brown had given to Bashe in order to stay in contact with her was confiscated but the social worker found that Bashe still had the phone.
The therapist was asked to participate in a meeting held by a concerned Rabbi who served as a Rabbinical advisor to Bashe's school and lived outside the grand Rabbi's community. The grand Rabbi sent two representatives to this meeting to assure everyone who was involved that measures had been taken to ensure Bashe's safety.
This was almost 10 years ago. The therapist hasn't heard any further information about Bashe or her father. It is known that prior to reporting this case more than 50% of the therapist's client referrals came from Bashe's community - since that time, he hasn't received one.
In an article entitled, The Criminal Cover-Up I wrote: Health and mental health workers in the Orthodox Jewish community are often stuck in a legal, ethical and religious dilemma. As "mandated reporters"...Continue reading right here...

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Blessings for an extraordinary day!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen