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Who’s the Bad Guy?

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For 20 years, Michael Lesher has been attempting to shine the light on child sex predators in close-knit Orthodox Jewish communities.

Now Lesher, an Orthodox Jew himself, has a new book out, Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities, which analyzes how and why cases of child sexual abuse have been systematically concealed in Orthodox Jewish communities. The book examines many such cover-ups in detail, showing how denial, backlash against victims, and the manipulation of the secular justice system have placed Orthodox Jewish community leaders in the position of defending or even enabling child abusers.

The book also examines the generally disappointing treatment of this issue in popular media, while dissecting the institutions that contribute to the cover-ups, including two—rabbinic courts and local Orthodox “patrols”—that are more or less unique to Orthodox Jewish communities.

Finally, the book explores the cultural factors that have contributed to this tragedy, and concludes with hopes and proposals for future reform.

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