Rabbi Sholom Doyber Levitansky was arrested by Santa Monica, California police last week on felony charges of sexual abuse of a child.
The police are seeking further information and are trying to locate any additional victims, the Santa Monica Daily Press (SMDP) reports.
Levitansky allegedly met his victims while working at Chabad’s Living Torah Center in Santa Monica, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue and education facility now located on Wilshire Boulevard near 12th Street. The abuse allegedly took place from 1998 to 2002. The victims were 15 and 16 years old and Levitansky was in his mid-20s, according to police, SMDP reports.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged Levitansky, a Sherman Oaks resident, with five counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 years of age, five counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, and one count of lewd act upon a child.
The Santa Monica Police Department urges anyone with additional information to contact Detective Roy Brown at 310-458-8960, Sgt. William Heric at 310-458-8453 or the Watch Commander at 310-458-8427.
Child sexual abuse can be especially difficult to deal with in insular Orthodox Jewish communities, which hold themselves apart from the wider community and culture. Community members are encouraged to keep abuse allegations within the community to avoid the “shame” of public exposure. Victims are directed to rabbinical courts to resolve accusations and these courts often obstruct efforts to bring suspected abuse to the attention of secular authorities. Victims are pressured not to report abuse to police. Those who have come forward have faced ostracism and retaliation within the community.