“Our criminal justice system punishes only the clearly guilty, and our media absolves only the clearly innocent — but that does not tell us whom our schools, synagogues and other institutions should employ”
We have to think long and hard as a community as to how we want to handle cases where abuse is alleged but no charges are brought, despite the fact that many people think that the accusation is “plausible” or “reasonable” or even “very likely true.” Our criminal justice system punishes only the clearly guilty, and our media absolves only the clearly innocent — but that does not tell us whom our schools, synagogues and other institutions should employ.
How do we want to treat people with a cloud over them? Should we err on the side of caution and remove these teachers from the classroom? Do we risk that, in the long run, no quality teacher will want to work for our schools when they have no protection against accusations that cannot be proven? How do we want to address the problem of teachers who are accused of unproven abuse and seek another job in a different school? Should unproved abuse allegations follow them? Do we want to have a formal database for such accusations and their resolution? These are hard questions for which no one has yet established the right policy answers.
All people of good will agree on how to address the cases where abuse is clearly proven or disproven. Ambiguous cases are tearing our community apart, and we have yet to agree on the proper resolution of even the most basic issue present: In cases of uncertainty, do we want to err on the side of the safety of our children and destroy the teaching career of those accused, or do we want to grant teachers reasonable rights not to be removed from their profession unless — at a minimum — an accusation is “most likely” correct?
Michael J. Broyde, “Six Steps For Dealing With Abuse Scandals”, The Jewish Week (2 March 2018), 22.