NEW YORK (JTA) – Many Americans accused of sexually abusing children flee to Israel to escape justice — and bringing them back can be tough.
Those are the findings of a CBS News investigation, which cited research by Jewish Community Watch, a U.S.-based organization that tracks accused pedophiles. Many of the accused abuse children in Israel as well, according to the report broadcast Wednesday.
Jewish Community Watch, which started tracking accused pedophiles in 2014, says it has identified more than 60 accused pedophiles who have fled from the U.S. to Israel in that time and that the actual number is likely much larger, CBS reported. The organization told CBS that most of its cases originate from Modern Orthodox to haredi Orthodox communities in the U.S., but that it happens across the wider Jewish community as well.
“The same thing that is going on in the Catholic Church right now around the world, the exact same thing is happening in our community,” Jewish Community Watch founder Meyer Seewald told CBS News. “The cover-ups are the same, the stigma, the shame.”
Jewish men and women have been able to escape to Israel using the Law of Return, which grants any person with a Jewish grandparent the right to obtain Israeli citizenship automatically.
Jewish Community Watch’s chief operating officer, Shana Aaronson, says the blame starts with Jewish communities in the U.S. and the U.S. government for not seeking extraditions, but that Israeli law enforcement has come up short in prioritizing the search for suspects. Israeli police told CBS that they take the cases seriously and coordinate with the Justice Ministry and police worldwide.