Sexual Abuse Survivor Seeks Support from Orthodox Jewish Community for Support with Law Reform. A young man, Chaim Levin, growing up in the Crown Heights Section of Brooklyn in an Ultra Conservative Orthodox Jewish Community, goes public with allegations that his cousin sexually abused him repeatedly from age six until he was ten. The young boy confided in his rabbi, and was told to tell his parents, but not to reveal the identity of his cousin to “avoid a family war.” The New York Daily News went on to report that for the next six years, “the cousin was a welcomed member of the family to his house. Chaim, however, revealed he was attracted to men and not women and was thrown out of yeshiva. One door after another was closed to him and he was shunned by the community and abandoned by his own family.”
Now, at age 27, he has formed a 103-member support group and is leading the struggle for legal reform of the statute of limitations currently on the books to seek justice for victims of child sex abuse. Levin tells the Daily News that “none of his past struggles will stop him from seeking justice.”
Numerous state legislatures are looking to amend litigation limits that have been part of state law for years. The current model is, litigation is limited to five years past the eighteenth birthday. Each year, some state legislator will rise to fight for amending the limits, some proposals adding five years, some proposing as much as thirty years. Too often offenders are finally accused of wrongdoing only to have the case against them thrown out due to the limited amount of time the law provides.
Jewish Reform congregations throughout the country celebrate those in the entire Jewish community who rise to let their voices be heard, and their actions be known in the face of repression. These very special people who become known as the 36 under 36 are thirty-six individuals under 36 years of age who are making a difference in the world. According to the New York Jewish week, Chaim Levin is indeed one of the 36 under 36. “Chaim Levin is a man of great principle,” says the director of Footsteps, Lani Santo, “He can’t let injustice just sit there.”
It has been a difficult subject inside the Hasidic community. The fabric of the culture is one that exhibits a stiff resistance to the secular world while choosing to keep quiet about sexual repression, and down-playing speaking up about abuse. An alleged abuser is sheltered while an innocent victim is unwilling to seek justice for fear of losing his place in the orthodox society.
Chaim Levin has dedicated his life to the opening of old-time oppressions and getting the conservatively uncomfortable to see the broader world in which they live. He has championed the cause of the “LGBTQ” (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer) which he then adds “Chabad” to emphasize the members of the Jewish community, which would rather not have to recognize the reality. Mr. Levin’s courage in the face of longtime repression makes him a rallying point for those who are fighting uphill battles against many foes. In a recent speech, New York’s Governor Cuomo calls for the passage of the Child victim’s law. This would increase the time allowed someone to speak up about, and name an abuser to 28. Not perfect perhaps, but an improvement.
Do you have questions as to how law reform affects you? The personal injury lawyers at Parker and Waichman offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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