Dr David Pelcovitz, the child protection advocate, has published a letter of apology.
This followed the publication last week of a letter written by Dr David Pelcovitz which was submitted to the judge prior to the sentencing of convicted child sex abuser Even Zauder. The publication of that letter resulted in a series of articles (including on this blog, asking for an apology from Dr Pelcovitz) & public outcry, particularly from members of the child protection lobby and activists.
These articles leveled criticism at Dr Pelcovitz and at the many leading Modern Orthodox rabbis who had "lined up" to support the convicted pedophile and child abuser, Evan Zauder, apparently while ignoring the plight of Zauder's victims.
An article in Yeshiva University's student paper The Commentator included an excerpt from an interview with Dr Pelcovitz, who claimed he had understood that "the only charge he was aware of against Zauder was child pornography use".
The actual crimes which Zauder had pleaded guilty to were sexual contact with a minor, a 14 year old boy (over a period of seven months); distribution of hard-core child pornography; and the lesser charge of possession of child pornography.
These crimes were widely publicised officially by the US Government, and in the mainstream and informal media, even reaching Haaretz in Israel, on the day Zauder pleaded guilty.
Dr Pelcovitz' position is that he was unaware of all this when he wrote his letter.
Dr Pelcovitz then seemed to jump out of the figurative pot and into the fire, by saying “I would never have done this if there was a direct victim involved,” thereby implying that child pornography possession is a victimless crime.
This would be a controversial stand to take at the best of times, and should not have been an area of debate which Dr Pelcovitz, already under fire, would chose to launch last week.
Dr Pelcovitz therefore published a brief letter of apology over the weekend on Rabbi Yanky Horowitz' website:
To Whom It May Concern:
I sincerely apologize to the abuse survivors who were upset by the submission of my letter to the judge in the Evan Zauder case.
Having spent my career researching the impact of abuse, working on developing educational, therapeutic and community prevention programs and treating survivors of abuse, I am deeply saddened that a letter I wrote added to their pain.
In no way does the letter I wrote reflect a belief on my part that possession of child pornography is a trivial or victimless crime and, once again, I profoundly regret the pain that my letter has caused abuse survivors.