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Gay Activist Accuses Orthodox Jewish Cousin Of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Gay Jewish blogger Chaim Levin, 22, has filed suit in Brooklyn against his cousin, Sholom Eichler, accusing the older relative of molesting him over a three year period starting in 1996, when Levin was just 6.  In the complaint, Levin claims the abuse occurred at the Eichler home, as well as at a synagogue both families were members of.

Eichler, who is in his late 20s, now works as a website manager for his family’s Judaica store.

Levin, who was raised in Crown Heights Hasidic community, runs the blog, Gotta Give ‘Em Hope, and has spoken openly about his horrifying experiences with Jewish reparative-therapy groups. He claims he went to authorities to file criminal charges against Eichler last year but that nothing was done.

Several cases of abuse and molestation among Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jews have made headlines in recent years, owing in part to the fact that the close-knit religious community is so mistrustful of outsiders. Some leaders have even demanded that a victim must speak to their rabbi before going public with accusations.

Below, Levin and other openly gay Jews raised in Orthodox families speak about their experiences in an It Gets Better video

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jul 4, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , ,
  • 34 Comments
    • Bipolar Bear
      Bipolar Bear

      Ah, religious groups… the deeper the repression, the greater the perversion. And then they have the gall to project their own demons onto others with “therapy”: http://bipolarbear.co.nz/2012/04/19/ex-gay-still-no-way/

      Jul 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph
      Joseph

      Wait a minute. If the “victim” is now 22 and the “perp” is now “in his late 20s,” that means, at the most, 7 years between them. The “victim” claims the abuse began when he was 6, which means the perp was, at most, 13.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe Shmoe
      Joe Shmoe

      So you think its ok that a 13 year old rapes a 6 year old? or later, that the 16 year old can rape the same 9 year old?
      Even if both are considered juveniles, a 13 year old has a more evolved mental capacity than a six year old.
      And if that mentality is about molesting kids — instead of obsessing over Playboy or whatever — then that person is a pedophile. Plain and simple. This person must be stopped. They won’t stop until they are forced to. How many llives need to be ruined?
      DP

      Jul 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul
      Paul

      Jews both orthdox and non-orthodox are some of the most homophobic and anti-LGBT people there are!

      Jul 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cray-cray
      cray-cray

      And then people saying that catholicism is guilty for every sexual abuse..take that! ha!!

      Jul 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam
      Sam

      @Paul:

      You are an idiot. Generalizing all Jews as homophobic is ignorant and dishonest.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hamoboy
      hamoboy

      @Sam: I’m not agreeing with him, but it’s ironic how hardly anyone on this site speaks up when someone says that about black people.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Making up stuff is fun!
      Making up stuff is fun!

      @hamoboy: *Is* it “ironic”? It might be “hypocritical,” but “ironic”? I’m not sure that it is … in fact, it kind of fits in with what I know about present-day America …

      Jul 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Making up stuff is fun!
      Making up stuff is fun!

      @hamoboy: And yeah, I’m nailing you for imprecise use of a word. You always gotta face the MUSIF, yo!

      Jul 4, 2012 at 9:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hf2hvit
      hf2hvit

      @Paul: DORK!

      Jul 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      I’ve never met a homophobic Jewish person and I know tons of Jews. Obviously, there are plenty of homophobes in ANY and ALL communities, I just find it amusing that some people on this site make such sweeping statements when I can’t even name one Jewish homophobe. I’m sure if I knew Orthodox Jews I would find them easily, but most American Jews are not Orthodox and not one of them (of any age) is even the slightest bit homophobic. So where are all of these homophobes, outside of YouTube videos of Orthodox Jews?

      Jul 4, 2012 at 9:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      @Paul: Are you insane? Jewish people are so much more supportive than Christians and Muslims. Hell, even the moderately Orthodox Jewish people are starting to be supportive. It is the extremely Orthodox that are not, but at least they live by the Torah and follow everything it says instead of picking and choosing like Christians do.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      @cray-cray: I do not remember anyone saying that. I think what most people have said is that there is a large amount of perversion in all fundamentalist religions (no matter what the fundamentalist religion is).

      Jul 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hamoboy
      hamoboy

      @Making up stuff is fun!: Actually, I was referring to how the presence of high levels of iron in Queerty commenters diets leads to racist remarks. THAT’S ironic.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hamoboy
      hamoboy

      @Making up stuff is fun!: Actually, I was referring to how the presence of high levels of iron in Queerty commenters diets leads to bigoted remarks. THAT’S ironic.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph
      Joseph

      @Joe Shmoe: Apparently, you were never 13.

      Jul 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Making up stuff is fun!
      Making up stuff is fun!

      @Joseph: Uh … are you, you demented freakshow, saying that at 13 a little molestation is par for the course?

      Jul 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Matt
      Matt

      I agree that Jews are highly bigoted, homophobic, and against LGBT people. The more liberal ones will claim to be all for LGBT People and our rights but when LGBT people aren’t around they’ll call us f@ggots and the Orthodox Jews are just open about how they do not like LGBT People and find us practically subhuman. Orthodox Jews especially those in America and Israel are A LOT worse with their homophobia than most Christians and moderate Muslims are.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 12:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gay Jew
      Gay Jew

      So Jews aren’t homophobic then? Then why did I get kicked out of home as a young adult when I came out to my parents? Why was I completely ostracized by everyone Jewish that I knew including people who I thought were friends, and friends of my family?

      Jul 5, 2012 at 12:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jack
      jack

      Levin: The first thing that I would suggest is that you take off that beaney. It suggests that you are sacrificing your intellect for myth. It is your mini burka.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 12:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay
      Jay

      STFU Jack you’re an anti-Semite!

      Jul 5, 2012 at 2:42 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      So once again Queerty runs an article about Jews and yet nothing has been written about Mormons in months. Even though…once again, Both the reform and Conservative branches of Judaism, which cover around 95% of Jews here, not only support gay rights, but allow gays to marry and ordain gay rabbis.

      Yet the Mormon church funnels millions of dollars to NOM, and are funding multiple anti-gay ballot initiatives around the nation.

      I’m curious, once again, has the LDS church bought off Queerty? We have seen multiple articles attacking a religion that is the largest major religion in the U.S. to support gay rights and yet no articles on the LDS church which is the single largest funder of anti-gay activities in the U.S.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 10:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      @Matt: Do you have any proof? Or are you the expert? Your anti-Semitism is beyond obvious and you can’t hide it behind unsupported statements. Nice try, though.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 11:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Paul and “Gay Jew” are two screenames that literally never show up on here except for any postings where they can come on and rant and rant about Jews.

      As for “Gay Jew” the way that I know you are lying, is because anybody who hates Jews as much as you do would NEVER label yourself as the group you hate.

      I would be curious though to find out why Dan Avery, the writer here keeps giving the Mormons a pass an all of their funding of anti-gay laws around the country, yet continually attacks Jews, when they allow gay marriage in their temples and the ordination of gay rabbis.

      Sounds like somebody has an issue.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chandler In Las Vegas
      Chandler In Las Vegas

      How interesting. So, he became an adult, waited 4 years and then had a V-8 moment to sue? This sounds a bit odd. Civil suits are all about money. Are there any residual criminal courses of action; would he be tried as a minor?

      Jul 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Aquarelle
      Aquarelle

      People who get molested are kinda gross. It’s like, OK, keep it to yourself. Nobody wants to be bummed out by your fascinating story of getting buttraped when you were a kid. Depressing much?

      Jul 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nat
      Nat

      @Chandler In Las Vegas:

      “How interesting. So, he became an adult, waited 4 years and then had a V-8 moment to sue? This sounds a bit odd.”

      Why does it sound odd?

      Sexual abuse leaves lasting damage on a person’s psyche; survivors might take decades to reach the point where they wish to seek justice. I don’t know if that is the case for Mr. Levin, but it is a common enough occurrence in civil suits of this nature. If the abuse occurred in a setting where there is a defined power structure (e.g. a family), the survivor might not be able to come forward until they are able to extricate themselves and forge their own independent identity.

      “Civil suits are all about money.”

      Civil suits of this nature are rarely about money. Litigation is very expensive, and in cases such as this, there will likely be very little money to be had.

      No, what most litigants are after is obtaining personal justice to reflect the wrong they suffered from the other party.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph
      Joseph

      @Making up stuff is fun!: No, I’m saying that at 13 you’re intensely interested in sex. Period.

      Jul 5, 2012 at 9:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rooney
      Rooney

      @Chandler In Las Vegas:

      “So, he became an adult, waited 4 years and then had a V-8 moment to sue?”

      Aren’t you cute, Chandler? It takes years for many victims to come to terms with what was done to them, out of shame, and because the perps kept telling them it’s their own fault, for being like seven years old and “so damn sexy”. Many keep their silence their entire lives, it’s a very mature decision to decide to talk about it and to put the blame on the actual pedophile. I wish it had happened to you, Chandler, so you would know what it feels like.

      Jul 6, 2012 at 6:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rooney
      Rooney

      @Matt: You’re full of shit.

      Jul 6, 2012 at 6:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rooney
      Rooney

      @Joseph: That doesn’t make it okay to grab another child and experiment your cruel little heart out on it.

      Jul 6, 2012 at 6:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chandler In Las Vegas
      Chandler In Las Vegas

      it’s a very mature decision to decide to talk about it and to put the blame on the actual pedophile. I wish it had happened to you, Chandler, so you would know what it feels like. @Rooney

      Now you are calling a 13 year old, or so, a pedophile? An adolescent pedophile? Whatever, if this were about the heavings and healings of the abused, and the point is to confront the abuser, I have a feeling that doing it within the framework of a lawsuit is, how might I say it, counter productive. If its intention is to inflict all kinds of abuse on the abuser in a twisted kind of power-play, then have at it. There are are easier ways to demand and receive an apology. There are cheaper, less hostile ways to engage this type of conversation.

      And, Rooney, wishing ill on me is simply sad and pathetic and diverts attention from the article. It appears YOU need to learn how to forgive, heal and move on. If someone needs an apology to do that, they have overly empowered their abuser. End of my commenting here.

      Jul 6, 2012 at 8:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nat
      Nat

      “I have a feeling that doing it within the framework of a lawsuit is, how might I say it, counter productive”

      You have no basis on which to make this claim.

      Lawsuits are not always the best forum to seek justice, but they are often the only one to force the party who committed the wrong to be held accountable. You greatly underestimate the emotional resolution that can be obtained by the justice system or impartial third-party declare that Person A was wronged by Person B. In skimming through Mr. Levin’s blog posts, it appears that it is often difficult to openly talk about sexual abuse, and that this in turn has led to a culture that further perpetuates the abuse. I’m not an Orthodox Jew, but it is a phenomenon which certainly seems prevalent in archaic power structures found everywhere (e.g. the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts). Seeking justice within is too often a fool’s errand; hence the courts.

      Additionally, lawsuits can often serve as the beginning action before alternative means are proposed, e.g. mediation, arbitration, alternatives to justice.

      “If its intention is to inflict all kinds of abuse on the abuser in a twisted kind of power-play, then have at it. ”

      That’s a gross mischaracterization of the justice system and private law, and it’s particularly heinous in a case that involves child sexual abuse. The point of the courts is to provide an impartial adversarial venue in which to seek justice. There is nothing twisted about it.

      “There are are easier ways to demand and receive an apology. There are cheaper, less hostile ways to engage this type of conversation. ”

      You have no evidentiary basis to make the first claim or second claims. In any event, the alleged abuse that Mr. Levin suffered demands a remedy that far exceeds a simple apology.

      Jul 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FB_100004505472788
      FB_100004505472788

      Troubled Jewish Teenager Describes Horrors of Sexual Abuse Growing Up in Foster Care
      John Bernadyn, UAG
      (CHICAGO) – As an innocent twelve year old boy, John Bernadyn was taken from his dysfunctional home and placed in to the youth welfare system of the state. “Freedom often comes with a price,” recalls Bernadyn.
      After spending many years lacking sleep, recalling horrible memories, and avoiding social situations he published a memoir entitled, Betrayed By The State: A Ward of the State Speaks Out. “These horrors won’t stop with me. Every parent needs to know that they are at risk of hearing these stories from their children – if the state so chooses to remove them from their home,” said Bernadyn. The statistics do seem to warrant his statement. While many organizations spend time campaigning or boasting about the positive outcomes for those having grown up in the foster care system, the silent majority go unheard.
      Shortly after arriving in his first foster care situation he contacted his child welfare caseworker to lodge a formal complaint. This started a six year journey of transfers from placement to placement that would ultimately land him in what he describes as ‘hell’ – including all the torments of physical and sexual violence. His final stop prior to exiting the system would be to live with youth from the department of corrections with serious problems. “I had to grow up rapidly in order to survive this situation.”
      In Bernadyn’s account he alleges that the child welfare system was unresponsive to his needs and the needs of those around him. In fact, he says, “They ultimately stopped taking my calls.” He is grateful to the final judge he met and ultimately released him from these horrors in a heart-wrenching and detailed account of the courtroom scenario.
      The successful twist is what does not get discussed in Bernadyn’s memoir. Bernadyn would later become a successful healthcare executive and managing partner of United Advocacy Group, Inc. Although calling Chicago his home, he travels extensively for speaking engagements and healthcare consulting. He may be reached at JBernadyn@UnitedAdvocacy.com or (312) 489-0632.
      ###

      Nov 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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