Police probe rabbi’s commission testimony

Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner.

THE Australian Federal Police (AFP) is assessing an allegation that Yeshivah board member Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner knowingly gave false or misleading testimony at February’s hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The AJN can exclusively reveal that the AFP spoke to a representative from the Royal Commission this week and then stated in a letter on Tuesday that “as a result of these discussions”, the allegation “has been sent to the relevant area for assessment”.

Rabbi Groner told the Royal Commission that Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner, who resigned as the head rabbi of the Yeshivah Centre in 2015 but is still being paid, does not still occupy a position of leadership within the Yeshivah Centre.

However, a victim of child sexual abuse told the AFP that Rabbi Telsner maintains an office within the synagogue, delivers sermons from the pulpit during weekly services and is waited on by other congregants.

The victim also told the AFP that Rabbis Groner and Telsner are co-heads of the Chabad Kashrut Committee, that Rabbi Telsner still sits at the front of the congregation, that Rabbi Telsner is still paid his full salary and that at a recent wedding Chabad Youth director Rabbi Moshe Kahn referred to Rabbi Telsner as the Moreh D’asra of Yeshivah, which means the rabbi of Yeshivah.

The AFP confirmed to The AJN this week that it received a referral regarding an allegation of providing false or misleading evidence to a Royal Commission.

“The referral is currently being evaluated, and while this occurs it is not appropriate to comment further,” an AFP spokesperson said.

“Under section 6H of Royal Commissions Act 1902, it is an offence, in relation to an inquiry being made by the Commission, to intentionally give evidence that a person knows to be false or misleading.

“The maximum punishment, upon conviction, is up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000.”

Due to Pesach, The AJN was only able to contact Yeshivah and Rabbi Groner on Wednesday morning and they were unable to provide a comment before The AJN went to press.

JOSHUA LEVI