I feel like every new article I read about Mordechai Winiarz/Marc Gafni I have some reaction to, and when I have a reaction, I need to write. A new article came out today in The Forward thanks to Sam Kestenbaum @skestenbaum. It is very well written, and like The New York Daily News article by Larry McShane @lmcshanenydn, I am very pleased with it overall.
The hardest paragraphs for me to read were the following:
“In that same 2004 article Rosenblatt cites another example, from 1986, when Gafni was accused of having relations with a 16-year-old female student from a youth group he led who was staying at his home in New York City. Gafni “was then 25 and married” and Judy Mitzner claimed that he “abused her sexually on two occasions.” At that time the age of consent in New York State was 17.
Charges were never filed in that case either and Gafni also claims that the relationship was consensual, although he concedes, including in an interview with the Forward in late December, it was a “mistake.””
So I was a “mistake”, just a mistake, an “oops”. Really? And all the other the victims, lies, manipulation, plagiarism, physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse in every community he touched, were all those just “mistakes” too? Things that can be erased and “done over”??
And, as I have mentioned numerous times before and Mr. Kestenbaum so eloquently restates charges were not filed because:
“[The] rabbinate at the time told us all to keep it quiet – that it would be handled internally … [They didn’t] want to cast a disparaging light upon the Jewish community.” – And we can’t turn back time.
Now the statute of limitations have run their course so there may be no legal remedy. He can just call me a “mistake” and get away with it.
Back when Mark Oppenheimer @markopp1 from The New York Times contacted me, I knew this would snowball. I knew there would be an avalanche, and I knew I’d have to relive the experiences and cope with a whole new barrage of emotions. Thankfully I am older and have had enough life experience to more easily deal with this than back in 1986 when I was 16 and virtually alone. It’s still not easy, but I now know I will make it through – now I have a support system and thousands of people who are not only listening, but believing, confirming and validating my experience. Once again to all of you – Thank You! You are helping make this experience easier by standing in solidarity with me.