Principal at Aussie school under fire sees child sex abuse inquiry as ‘welcome step’

The launch of a commission to investigate child sex abuse was welcomed by the principal of an Australian Jewish school whose students allegedly were victimized.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Monday that the royal commission — or public inquiry — would look into children under the care of religious organizations and focus on the response of the institutions to the alleged sex abuse cases. She called child sex abuse “vile and evil.”

Yeshivah College, an Orthodox school run by Chabad in Melbourne, has been at the center of controversy since allegations broke last year that its students had been victims of sexual abuse.

Its principal, Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, issued a statement Wednesday saying that “Child abuse is abhorrent and has a traumatic consequences for victims and their families. Victims of abuse deserve support and closure, and a royal commission is a very positive and welcome step.”

Manny Waks, a spokesman for alleged victims who claims he was abused as a student at Yeshivah College, said that “I’m receiving more and more allegations of child sexual abuse coming from the Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Jewish communities. Some are alleged to have occurred years ago, while others as recent as the past few years.”

One alleged perpetrator, David Cyprys, is standing trial next year on numerous counts of child sex abuse against former students of Yeshivah College from the 1980s. Another alleged perpetrator, David Kramer, is awaiting extradition from America to Australia, where he is wanted by police who are investigating allegations that he also committed child sex abuse while he taught at Yeshivah College between 1989 and 1993.

Malka Leifer, a former principal of the Adass Israel School in Melbourne, fled the country for Israel in 2008 amid allegations that she sexually abused female students.

Zentai stroke prevents appearance at extradition appeal

An 89-year-old accused Nazi war criminal living in Australia suffered a stroke that prevented him from appearing in court to hear the latest appeal in his long-running extradition case.

Charles (Karoly) Zentai was due in the Federal Court in Perth Monday to hear an appeal by the federal government, which is arguing that a court decision last year that spared Zentai from extradition to his native Hungary was incorrect. the court on Tuesday agreed to reserve an opinion.

Hungary has requested Zentai be extradited for the alleged murder in 1944 of Peter Balazs, an 18-year-old Jew who was allegedly killed because he was not wearing the mandatory yellow Star of David.

Since the case first surfaced in 2005, Zentai has strenuously denied the allegations, saying he was not in Budapest on the day of the incident.

Zentai’s son, Ernie Steiner, said the stress of the legal action caused the stroke May 13 and that his father would not survive extradition.

“It would kill him,” Steiner told reporters on Monday. “The stress of even something like today is enormous, the concern, the worry.

“It’s inhumane, when all of this could be handled in Australia. They could send people over here to question him,” he said.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor approved Zentai’s extradition in 2009, but the ruling was overturned in last July by Justice Neil McKerracher, who ruled that O’Connor’s decision was outside his jurisdiction.

Racial hatred trial opens in Perth

The trial of a West Australian man who posted a video on YouTube accusing Judaism of being a “religion of racism, hate, homicide and ethnic cleansing” opened in Perth.

Brendon Lee O’Connell, 38, who is representing himself, described Monday’s proceedings in District Court as a “kangaroo court” and told Judge Henry Wisbey he should be facing charges of treason. Two of O’Connell’s supporters had to be removed from court at the judge’s request.

O’Connell is facing seven racial hatred charges relating to a 2009 altercation with two Jewish students in a supermarket where a Friends of Palestine protest was being staged against the sale of Israeli fruit.

On the YouTube video, which is still available on the popular video-sharing website, O’Connell is allegedly recorded as saying that “You have a religion of racism, hate, homicide and ethnic cleansing” before calling one of the Jewish students a “racist Jew.”

“You are a racist, homicidal maniac,” he said, adding that “I will put you in the camps with the rest of them.”

Western Australia’s racial vilification laws were enacted in 2005. The maximum penalty for the offense is 14 years in jail or fines of up to $18,000.