FORMER Yeshivah College (Melbourne) teacher Rabbi David Kramer last week pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault and one count of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child under 16. Six more charges were withdrawn.
When asked how he pleaded in relation to the charges, Kramer, who appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court via video link on Friday last week, said simply: “I plead guilty.”
In a strange twist, prosecutor Rebecca Schell told the court she had received information from “a third party” that Kramer may have been “under some pressure” to plead guilty to the charges.
It had been reported that Kramer was urged to enter a guilty plea to avoid drawn-out court proceedings that could have submitted the Yeshivah community to further pressure over their handling of the alleged abuses.
Magistrate Amanda Chambers asked Kramer if he had reached the decision to plead guilty of his “own free will”.
“There’s no problem, no pressure whatsoever and everything is all right,” Kramer said.
Kramer did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody to appear before the County Court on July 17.
President of Jewish victim advocacy group Tzedek Manny Waks told reporters outside the court he was delighted with the outcome.
“It’s a watershed moment for the Jewish community,” Waks said.
“The many victims I’ve been in touch with have been anxious, but certainly very pleased [with] the way things have unfolded.
“This is something that has been plaguing the entire Jewish community for way too long. We’re currently talking about multiple perpetrators with many victims across jurisdictions in both Melbourne and Sydney.”
When asked to respond to the allegations Kramer had been coerced, Waks said: “I would not be surprised.”
Kramer was extradited from the US in October last year after serving four-and-a-half years for child sex offences in Missouri. He was spirited to Israel by Yeshivah College in 1993, after senior officials were made aware of the alleged abuses, which took place between 1990 and 1992.
Former Yeshivah College (Melbourne) teacher Rabbi David Kramer.