The shandah factor

David Kaye is being accused of raping Rebecca Pastor in Baltimore 23 yeas ago.
David Kaye is being accused of raping Rebecca Pastor in Baltimore 23 yeas ago.

There is no statute of limitation for the crime of rape in Maryland. That law has become increasingly relevant to Rebecca Pastor, 46, of Essex County, N.J.

Pastor, who was allegedly manipulated and raped in her Fountainview apartment in Baltimore 23 years ago — on Christmas Day 1990 — returned to Baltimore last week to meet with police and provide evidence of the event, which sent her into years of therapy. Now, strong and passionate about stopping her perpetrator and preventing other women from going through the hell she experienced, Pastor is telling her story out loud and encouraging others like her to come forward.

Last month, Pastor found out that Yeshaya Dovid Kaye (David Kaye), who had come to her apartment in Baltimore under the guise of helping her secure a get (a Jewish divorce) and then allegedly raped her, was not in jail but rather a mere eight minutes from her home — living at his parent’s house. And, as of last week, he was looking for work — anywhere in he could find it in the Jewish community.

When Rebecca took initial action 23 years ago, including contacting two prominent New York rabbis, she was told that “the situation was being handled.” Subsequently, she went through her own healing and then ultimately seven years ago thought she had closure when she heard through the media that a Rabbi David Kaye was jailed for sexual offenses.

When she contacted the news outlet to report her case, she was told they had enough information and did not need her testimony. She learned roughly one month ago, through a communication that was sent out by two New Jersey pulpit rabbis to their congregants, that the jailed Rabbi Kaye was in fact a different Kaye. Her alleged rapist was free and she learned that he had allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of women, at least four who informed rabbis of their plight (though the women will not go to the police or talk on the record) in such verifiable detail that these rabbis felt empowered to warn local residents.

The advisory, signed and sent to congregants in the West Orange, N.J., area by Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler and Rabbi Mark Spivak, warned them of “the presence of a potential perpetrator” in hopes that congregants could “protect themselves and their families.” The message named Kaye, termed his allegations “serious” and advised him not to attend their shuls “for the foreseeable future.”

Almost immediately after Pastor saw the warning, she phoned the rabbis to tell them her story.

Since then, with the help of Rabbis Zwickler and Spivak and Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Yosef Blau, Pastor said she has identified information that strongly suggests Kaye has a long history of allegations of rape against him, including in Israel, Germany and other locations. The information, according to posts on the website and reports by the rabbis and Pastor, indicates that Kaye portrays himself as an upstanding rabbi (his ordination could not be verified at the time of this writing) and then psychologically and religiously manipulates Orthodox women, building trust and playing on their deep religious faith to convince them to succumb to him sexually.

The rabbis were not surprised by the stories and information that Pastor found. According to Rabbi Zwickler, “We did our homework,” before sending out the notice. “We verified the stories; these are credible people.”

Stories include, for example, a chasidic woman who said she was raped but is unwilling to submit her name (or even tell her own family about the incident) for she is traumatized and terrified to tell her husband for fear she would be kicked out of her home. Another woman, who is going by Chana, says Kaye convinced her that he had a prophetic vision that she would suffer a tragic death if she did not cleanse her soul by submitting to him; she complied over several months.

A former member of the administration at Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, where Kaye taught for a period, confirmed on condition of anonymity that “he left the school in the middle of the year, and it was not by choice.”

The administrator noted inappropriate interactions with young female students.

Another rabbi, who would not give his name for fear of repercussions from his place of employment, noted that he had heard countless rumors about Kaye’s actions over the course of more than one decade.

Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani (spiritual counselor) at Yeshiva University, said he had been contacted by many people with concerns over Kaye’s behavior for many years and was personally responsible for getting him fired from one position. However, he said, “There was no mechanism to do anything beyond getting him fired.”

In Pastor’s case, Kaye learned of her fight to receive a get from her young husband from a mutual friend, Moshe Rothschild; Rothschild had grown up in Kaye’s community but had no idea about Kaye. Kaye volunteered to help Pastor, and over the course of two weeks, from the time Rothschild contacted him until he offered to visit Pastor in Baltimore for counseling and assistance, he systematically learned about her and pumped Rothschild for information, asking him for facts about her family — details that only someone on the inside would know. Pastor said when Kaye arrived, he knew what her husband and son looked like and he had information about her sisters and other family members. He told her that he had a prophetic vision that her 2-year-old son would die before he turned 3 and described the family members standing by the casket. In shock, Pastor sat down on her couch, breaking down in tears. Kaye sat down beside her. He put his hand over her mouth and forced himself upon her.

When he was finished, Pastor kicked him out, screaming. He threatened her that if she told anyone about the incident, he would ruin her life.

Despite these threats, Pastor turned to rabbinical authorities in the New York area. She was told she needed to secure evidence. She tried calling Kaye and tape recording his admission. The first time, he hung up on her. The second, she blurted out, “You raped me, and I am pregnant.”

She was not pregnant, but her trick served its purpose. Kaye panicked, told her she had to abort the child and wired between $300 and $400 through Western Union to Pastor to get the job done; Pastor is trying to secure those records. Rothschild, who is now a rabbi and tour guide living in Israel, corroborates the story. Until now, Rothschild and Pastor had not been in contact for several years.

But both kept copies of the tape recording, and while Pastor threw hers out after she thought her rapist was in jail, Rothschild said that he kept his.

According to Kaye’s lawyer, Mitchell Liebowitz, “Ms. Pastor, by her statements, admits to a possible violation of Maryland’s anti-wiretapping statute, which generally prohibits nonconsensual recording of telephone conversations.”

Lauren Shaivitz, a lawyer, advocate and director of programming for CHANA, a Baltimore helpline for abused women, said that from what she knows of the case from an article that ran last week in the New York Jewish Week and from similar cases, she believes this incident of rape would be considered a felony in Maryland and would be charged as a criminal case. She said it is important for victims to know that they can file charges anytime while the perpetrator is still alive, no matter how many years have passed.

Baltimore City Police confirmed Shaivitz’s sentiments. Though police could not speak in any detail about Pastor’s case, detective Brandon Echevarria said police do have ways to investigate allegations such as, or similar to, Pastor’s. He noted that the length of an investigation varies by case, but “once all avenues of the investigation have been exhausted, the detectives’ original case file is duplicated and delivered to the Office of the State’s Attorney for review.”

Debbie Teller (not her real name) who runs the website, listed Kaye on her website several months ago, after CHANA contacted her with her personal story. Since then, more than 80 others have responded, noting that they, too, were victims or know someone who was. Kaye’s father confirmed that Kaye, along with his wife and children, was staying at his home in West Orange, N.J. He refused further comment. Liebowitz said he believes Pastor “still faces some very serious hurdles in connection with a criminal case going forward.”

Liebowitz spoke mostly off the record but did say that “Kaye unequivocally denies the allegations made by Ms. Pastor. … The reported statements are defamatory and lack credibility.”

(The Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, at which Kaye worked from 2001 to 2009, was contacted. According to Ron Shafra, associate vice president for public affairs, “We received no reports of incidents of the nature described in recent press reports and are not aware of any such incidents.”)

Rabbi Zwickler said that he and Rabbi Spivak did not come looking for this — Kaye’s parents were considered pillars of the West Orange Jewish community — but the situation “obviously escalated to the point where we felt we needed to make sure we protected the community.”

Rabbi Mark Dratch, head of the Rabbinical Council of America, said one of the biggest challenges that rabbis face in these situations is that there is no formal mechanism for evaluating allegations. If victims go to law enforcement, it changes the playing field. And while he admitted that the justice system is not infallible, he said that is the correct place for these types of cases to be handled. He said he supported Rabbis Zwickler and Spivak’s decision to send the notice and feels “they were very certain that the allegations were very credible.” He sees the move as a sign that “we are in a better position than we were 10 years ago. More rabbis understand the situation and the obligation to be proactive.”

Still, there is more that could be done. Pastor said she would like to see something such as “The Kaye Law,” be instituted by rabbinical authorities, requiring them to turn immediately to proper authorities when a case like this comes to their attention.

Nancy Aiken, executive director of CHANA, said it is important to shed light on these cases to make it easier for other victims to come out. She said that there are a lot of people walking around with these stories, and if they can feel comfortable coming forward, there may be some help.

“There is almost never one victim,” said Aiken. “When someone comes forward, he or she may not get the justice that is deserved, but almost for sure it will prevent another victim or another person from being victimized.”

Said Pastor in the name of one of her mentors: “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our own light.”

Maayan Jaffe is editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times, WJW’s sister publication.

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