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Friday, June 08, 2018 

Ultra-Orthodox camp counselor accused of vile sex abuse

Here's another story, not unlike the Malka Leifer case, where a Haredi woman's been accused of sexual abuse of a student:
When Leah Sokolovsky was 15, she spent many Friday nights sleeping over at the home of the 20-year-old assistant head counselor of her ultra-Orthodox summer camp.

The two had not been particularly close at camp. But during the school year that followed, the counselor, an ultra-Orthodox woman named Gittie Sheinkopf, cultivated Sokolovsky. Sokolovsky says Sheinkopf was nice to her and made her feel special. She began inviting her to sleep over for the Sabbath.

Within a few months, Sokolovsky says, Sheinkopf began molesting her. It went on for over a year.

Eight years later, Sokolovsky decided she needed an apology.

Sokolovsky tried calling Sheinkopf. Sheinkopf denied everything. Sokolovsky tried taking her to rabbinical court. Sheinkopf didn’t show up.

In the end, Sokolovsky turned to YouTube, posting a video in which she alleged repeated sexual and emotional abuse.

“The first time she penetrated me I felt like I was dying from pain,” Sokolovsky says through tears. “It was the most traumatic thing. I had nobody to tell this to.”

The video, posted in late May, went viral in Orthodox Jewish circles. It was an extraordinarily rare thing: A young woman speaking publicly about alleged sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, and not only naming her alleged abuser, but explaining how the dynamics of the Orthodox community forced her to be quiet for so long.

In the days since she posted the video, Sokolovsky, who goes by Leah but whose given name is Dorina, has been attacked in the WhatsApp groups that serve as a digital public square for ultra-Orthodox Jews. In voice messages, she was called a liar, jealous, and even accused of blackmail. In response, Sokolovsky filed a defamation suit in a Brooklyn court on June 4 against a WhatsApp user named Yanky Sofer, whose voice messages she alleges were circulated widely in Orthodox circles.

In the meantime, the video, and a follow-up question-and-answer video posted days later, have racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube. Sokolovsky’s story not only raises the specter of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, but also the particular vulnerability of young so-called baalei tshuva; non-religious Jews who seek to live a frum, or observant, lifestyle.
If she chose it herself, it was a huge mistake. Isolationist lifestyles of that sort only risk leading to the mindsets that victimize many youngsters in cloistered communities. I hope the counselor is prosecuted for the criminal offense she committed, and that's when the lady will finally receive the justice she's owed.

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