Rabbi knew of abuse in 1986: victim

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Victims of sexual abuse at Melbourne's Yeshivah College insist a Jewish community leader knew it was happening to children but did not stop it.

Victims of sexual abuse at Melbourne's Yeshivah College insist a Jewish community leader knew it was happening to children but did not stop it.

Two victims of convicted pedophile David Cyprys told a royal commission that the head of Yeshivah Centre, Rabbi Dovid Groner, was aware of abuse by Cyprys as early as 1986.

But the rabbi believed Cyprys had been cured, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told on Monday, as it began hearing from victims of sexual abuse in the Melbourne and Sydney Jewish communities. Manny Waks was abused by the son of a senior rabbi and teacher at Yeshivah College when he was 11-years-old.

He said he confided in a friend, but news spread through the school and he became a victim of taunts and bullying, which occurred in front of classmates, teachers and senior community leaders.

When he was abused by Cyprys between 1987 and 1990, Mr Waks started blame himself.

"At the time I felt that it was my own fault after all, why would two separate, well-known, community members sexually abuse me," he said.

Mr Waks kept quiet until 1996 when he spoke to police and contacted Rabbi Groner. He told the commission it seemed clear that Rabbi Groner was aware of the circumstances.

The rabbi told him that Yeshivah was dealing with Cyprys, and he should not do anything of his own accord, Mr Waks said.

A second witness, known to the commission as AVA, said he believed Cyprys groomed him for abuse, which began in 1986 and continued until 1988.

He said Cyprys started out by pinching him on the backside but the abuse escalated to touching and fondling.

On one occasion AVA was made to run around outside without his pants on as a form of "punishment". In a statement to the commission, AVA's mother said she contacted Rabbi Groner in 1986 when she first became aware of the abuse.

She said that Rabbi Groner responded: "Oh no, I thought we had cured him", and vowed to take care of it.

But AVA said the abuse continued for two years after his mother's conversation with Rabbi Groner.

"In my opinion, the first thought of the leaders of the Yeshivah Centre was to protect Yeshivah and its reputation, not me or the other children," AVA said. The hearings continue.

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