Pedophile Rings?

It seems to be not much more than a situation built on a gross misunderstanding, wrapped in fear, projected across an entire community. No one is even using the correct language in describing this situation. A dangerous thing to say but – Nachalot seems to be 20 to 30 years behind the times and this is glaringly evident in the case of an alleged pedophile ring in the Nachalot neighborhood. That is not to say that there are no pedophiles in Nachalot. That would be akin to saying that there are no pedophiles in New York City. Pedophiles are everywhere.

According to many estimates, pedophiles make up approximately five percent of the population, everywhere. Pedophilia is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible for diagnoses, as a compulsive, recurring sexual fantasy involving prepubescent children. The fantasies and urges are considered pathological if they occur in someone who is over the age of 16, and causes significant impairment in areas of normal daily functioning. Note the word “pathological.” Pedophilia is a psychological disorder. It only becomes a legal issue if the pedophile acts on his compulsive sexual perversions. Acts that would bring a pedophile to the attention of the police include taking or  trading sexually explicit pictures of young children, grooming prepubescent children for the purpose of abusing them or actually molesting a young child. That is the key distinction between the fantasizer of young children who does not act on it and the molester who does.

Are there pedophiles who are molesters in Nachalot? That is the key question. The answer seems to be yes or at least maybe as the police do have some individuals in custody. Is there a ring of pedophiles? That seems highly unlikely. Is there a ring of pedophile molesters? The answer to this question appears to be a definitive no.

Historically there is no precedent anywhere of a proven ring of pedophiles acting in concert who abuse and molest young children. Pedophiles tend to act discreetly and insidiously. They are, to a very real degree, embarrassed by their drives and are loathe to share their fantasies with others. When they do share it is usually via the Internet where they trade pictures. International efforts have come a long way in shutting down these picture trading pedophiles. But a ring of pedophiles acting together in the same neighborhood has never been confirmed. There are, however, precedents for the belief that such a ring exists and the hysteria that occurs among parents and community members subsequent to that panic.

A ring of pedophile molesters would inevitably leave a trail of clues both digital and physical on their computers, on their cell phones and even on the children that they molest. The early 1980’s was the height of the sex abuse frenzy in the United States. Perhaps the most famous case was the McMartin preschool trial in California. The McMartin family operated a preschool and the family running the school was charged with well over 300 counts of abuse of 48 children. After one of the most expensive trials in American legal history, a trial which lasted six years, not a single conviction was obtained and ultimately all charges were dropped. Most of the charges against the family were found to be based upon false accusations coerced from the young children who attended the school.

The McMartin case was not the only one that occurred at the time. Another case that came to national attention in the U.S. was the Friedman case. The Friedman’s, father and 15 year old son who assisted him, ran a private computer school in Great Neck, New York. It is this case that seems more instructive as an analogy to the Nachalot situation. Arnold Friedman, who received awards for his skills as a teacher was indeed found to be a pedophile. But there has never been any evidence that he actually molested any of the students in his computer school. Further there was no evidence that Jesse Friedman, Arnold’s son or any friend of his, one of whom was also arrested, actually committed any of the crimes they were charged with. Nevertheless, young children coerced by aggressive police interviews, some therapists unwillingly or even unknowingly seeking to create a reputation as experts in a burgeoning field and local politics together with a feeding frenzy of fear of pedophile rings conspired to cause the conviction and jailing of the Friedman’s. At this point in time, almost all of those children who were interviewed as children have recanted their testimony as adults. They said simply that they were not abused but because they were convinced that they had to say something to end the police interviews and the subsequent “therapy” that they were forced to participate in, they made statements that were simply not true. This is surely a piece of the Nachalot panic as well.

Parents are charged with caring for their children. It is perhaps the most sacred act of a parent to protect their child. Protecting a child also includes guarding them not just from people who may hurt them physically but also from overly aggressive rumor mongers and individuals, perhaps well-intentioned, who seek to make a name for themselves using children. It is true that pedophiles tend to gravitate to situations that allow them to have contact with children. To best protect a child parents must teach their children the difference between good touch and bad touch, and who is allowed to touch them, the names of their body parts and that children can always talk with their parents about absolutely anything.


About the Author
Dr Michael Salamon, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a 2018 APA Presidential Citation Awardee. He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."