OTD Sector Roiled by Accusation of Rape

A Note about sources for this article: Some of the information here was gleaned from the nominally private Off The Derech Facebook group. Group rules urge members to be mindful of the fact that some members are “still in the closet” and to be respectful of that by “not reposting anything from this group”.

Nevertheless, we have decided to base some of the reportage in this article on what is accessible only to members of the private group, owing to the following:

  • The incident has now become a cause celebre among thousand in the OTD sector and beyond, whether intended to or not, and is no longer, de facto, private.
  • Where possible we are not reposting content verbatim from the Facebook group, and never with attribution to the real identity of its commenters.
  • The accusation was originally posted to a 2,525-member group with the express intent that as many people become aware of it as possible. Many others have been notified through illicit emailing and screenshots. At this point the OTD and the public’s interests are best served through a more complete, accurate, and balanced version of events.

A woman in the OTD community whom we shall call A.B. has publicly accused a fellow man who we shall call C.D. of raping her. Her initial announcement was made on September 11 in the Off The Derech Facebook group:

[C.D.] brutally and viciously raped me, with significant force, and causing serious bodily injury with complete disregard for my very explicit lack of consent. He did so to at least 6 other OTD/footsteps members before me. And the reason why he wasn’t stopped, the reason why I had to go through this horror; was because people behaved like a bunch of sweeping under the carpet frumies.

It is unusual in general and unprecedented in the OTD sector that a supposed rape victim makes her accusation public and names her alleged perpetrator. (The law usually protects the identity of rape complainants in order to encourage them to come forward; hence genuine rape victims who seek justice avail themselves of that protection.) The blunt Facebook post therefore engendered a heated response of 143 likes and 82 comments. Virtually all of the commenters were unquestioningly and unconditionally sympathetic and supportive, even though the accusation did not include any details about the event, e.g. whether A.B. had known C.D. prior to the event, how they went about courting, if any, and whether she had at any point willingly participated in the acts leading up to the intercourse that the A.B. now defines as “rape”.

The tone of the response was rage and indignance. The mob directed their ire not just on the alleged perpetrator but also on Footsteps, believing that Footsteps should have done more to protect A.B. from her alleged rapist. The mob was also furious that Footsteps wasn’t swiftly and decisively banning C.D. from the organization now that the event has come to light, or meting out some other punishment.

Others debated whether A.B.’s refusal to report the event to the police was tying Footsteps’ hands on the matter given that the organization is not equipped to investigate, let alone punish criminal behavior. Still others questioned why the organization hadn’t reported the incident to government authorities as “mandatory reporters” of molestation or abuse, to which the retort by the legally proficient members was quickly provided: mandatory reporting only applies with respect to minors. Adults can and ought to report to authorities alleged assault themselves. Besides, a Footsteps report would be useless if A.B. then refused to cooperate with a police investigation and press charges.

Later in the day, Footsteps issued a rejoinder: it affirmed its commitment to the safety of its members, and the organization’s policy of limiting or terminating members who break the organization’s code of conduct. But it cautioned that “Footsteps is not a law enforcement agency and as such cannot investigate alleged criminal behavior. Any unlawful conduct should be reported to the authorities.”

Footsteps offered to provide comfort to the alleged victim, to offer educational workshops on sexual misconduct, and to formulate a more detailed policy on member safety, but it declined to discuss specifics of the case citing confidentiality and the privacy of the accused.

Footsteps members were livid. Many drew an analogy between the legal hedging in the Footsteps’ response to this event with a similar tone evinced by the Agudath Israel a few years back when accusations of child sexual molestation by Haredi school personnel were becoming widespread. It seemed that these large organizations were either actively seeking to protect sexual offenders, or –in the case of Footsteps– that they were deterred by a fear of a lawsuit on the part of the accused if he is ejected from the organization unjustly or without due process.

The Accused Defends Himself

C.D. had been inactive in social media at first and was not responding to the accusation. Nor was anyone questioning the narrative. The groupthink was unanimous that he was guilty and should be punished severely, some even voicing wishes for vigilante justice.

This morning, however, C.D. responded after somehow becoming privy to not only the OTD Facebook thread wherein the accusation against him was discussed and his verdict sealed by the mob in absentia, but also of a message posted in a much more limited and highly secretive group of OTD women in which A.B had first broached the topic about a week earlier, on September 4th.

In that September 4th post, a highly detailed and much more nuanced story is told. A.B. recounts how the two had known each other from OTD meetup groups and how C.D. had “invited himself over” to her house that evening. Whereas she was “clearly uncomfortable and overwhelmed” and had asked him “to give her space and slow down”, she stated that “I did not say ‘no’ or ask him to leave, which I should have”.

C.D. made that message public in demonstration of the consensuality of their courtship and the eventual intercourse. C.D. also took the opportunity to repudiate some of the assertions in A.B.’s account of the story. For instance, regarding the accusation that he removed his condom mid-act without her permission and proceeded without it, C.D. attached screenshots of later phone text messages between the couple in which A.B. expressed gratification with how things went down.

Other things revealed and proven in the attached text messages:

  • On the night of the event A.B. wrote to C.D. “you should totally come [to visit]”.
  • C.D. offered to bring wine and weed, to which A.B. acquiesced.
  • On the morning after, C.D. wrote that he had fun, to which A.B. responded “aww, I’m happy to hear, me too”. And the two proceeded with some brief banter.
  • On the evening of the next day, when C.D. expressed interest in seeing her again, A.B. responded:
    “Thank you, that’ll be nice. I can’t sleep with [you] again, though. I’m really hurting. We’re not a good match sexually, if you now what I mean 🙂 I hope I’m not making you feel bad. It’s a compliment if you really think about it. But I’m just sore and hurting.”
  • In A.B.’s later recounting of the incident in the FB post to a select group of OTD women, as now made public by C.D., A.B. contended that she really felt violated by the event but she had framed her not wanting to see him again as a compliment out of tactful consideration for his feelings.

The Six Women

In A.B.’s account of her “rape” she tells of six other women whom C.D. had raped before her. This claim was then repeated, unquestioned, by the alarmed activists, as if it was independently corroborated by anyone else. Critics contend that there is no entity that has looked into A.B.’s accusations to confirm or deny. There is also no authoritative entity that is officially entrusted with the task of hearing allegations of sexual misconduct among OTD’ers or Footsteppers, to whom the six women could report. The “six women” are as ethereal as angels: no one has ever heard of them directly or knows their identity. But the “six women” is taken as an article of faith by the mob whose sole objective is the execution of justice, not the discovery of circumstances of the event and the determination of whether guilt exists. The argument went that even if there were no legal case against C.D. and even if Footsteps did not have the means or authority to investigate the allegation, if six women make a complain that should be sufficient to banish C.D. from the organization.

Parallels in the Mainstream Culture

If the picture that emerges here is correct, as demonstrated by the accused, of a woman who initially consents to intercourse, but later regrets it and therefore consider it rape retroactively, then there is ample precedent for this in the mainstream American culture, which likely would have been a model of behavior for A.B. in this instance. It is possible that someone had convinced her subsequently that the act was considered rape, that she was the victim of a crime, and that social justice warriors stand by to rally behind her cause. The promise of sympathy, popularity and possibly even Gofundme campaign money to be gained from victimhood would have been alluring. As explained by David French in the National Review: “Once ‘victimized’, a person gains power, but not through any personal risk. Indeed it is the victim’s hypersensitivity and fragility that makes them politically and socially strong”.

Nobody knows for sure what specifically prompted it, but sometime early in Obama administration’s first term a sudden hysteria about “rape on college campus” erupted. Advocates of the newfangled cause alleged that male students were imposing themselves on women and coercing them into sex against their express will. Under Biden’s leadership, the Obama administration took decisive and draconian action to quell the uproar. It issued decrees requiring schools to thoroughly investigate all rape and sexual assault accusations and take punitive action based on a “preponderance of evidence” (defined as a mere greater than 50% likelihood that the man had committed an act of sexual assault). Women were encouraged to come forward and report any and all incidents of perceived assault under the belief that sexual assault complaints had been thitherto ignored and dismissed by incompetent and complicit schools administrations and women were therefore afraid of reporting them. The Obama-era rules and procedures were promulgated under a new interpretation of title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education. Schools that did not comply were threatened with a termination of federal funding.

The result of the Obama-era crackdown on sexual assaults on campus was, among other things, a broadening of the definition of what constituted sexual assault, a prima facie belief in the veracity of the account given by a sexual assault complainant, and an assumption of guilt on the part of the alleged perpetrator.

Closer to home, A.B. may have been inspired by fellow OTD’er Leah Vincent, who centered her magnum opus memoir “Cut Me Loose” on the dubious but trendy assertion of being a rape victim. Leah Vincent is a highly respected member in the OTD sector and her book was promoted by Footsteps.

Many people, even elements in the liberal camp, (see NYTsee also Slate) now recognize that Obama-era “reforms” went too far. Sec. of Education Betsy Devos is now rolling back the Obama-era rules, and media publications are only now recounting the horror stories experienced by men who were unjustly accused of assault and rape and saw their whole lives and careers shattered in consequence.

What is particularly telling is that in a recent comprehensive expose in The Atlantic on this subject, a very similar incident is described: a sexual encounter (in which the woman gave the man fellatio while he was largely passive) between two students that appeared to be mutually consensual as described by observers as well as by the alleged victim herself, but that the woman later reclassified as having been a coercive assault. In The Atlantic case, the tryst was interracial and took place in his fraternity house. It appears that the woman felt embarrassed when others in the house, fraternity men and sorority women alike, found out that she had made out with him. Her decision to retroactively consider the alcohol-influenced act as having been coercive was a way for her to clear her reputation with her friends. The incident is extreme in the way the school punished him, eventually barring him from classes and effectively ejecting him from the school, even though the alleged act was not only consensual but the woman assumed the active role in it. Other, similar, hyped-up accusations and draconian measures taken by universities in response, abound.

In many such incidents the male students, after being raked through coals –their reputation smeared, their career tracks derailed, and being emotionally devastated– have successfully sued the schools in court for redress. Prudent schools now know, even absent the recently announced Devos reforms, that overreacting and being too zealous in compliance with Title IX as interpreted by the Obama admin poses as much a liability as taking too little action.

Observers note that Footsteps and OTD sector in general are highly attuned to mainstream developments in the liberal consensus of New York City. The community, in its quest to prove its liberal “mainstream” credential, follows such mainstream developments closely and learns to emulate their attitudes, mores, and sensibilities.

Following 2008, the height of the Catholic Church sexual molestation of children scandal, OTD folk leveled similar accusations against Rabbis in the haredi sector, e.g. the one by activist Chaim Levin. In their passion over the issue they once interpreted footage of an innocent scolding of a boy by his teacher as being an act of sexual abuse.

Other urban-elite liberal mores on which the OTD sector follows closely behind pioneering trends:

  • An obsession with privacy. In Footsteps a member’s name may never be revealed to others, even within the community, nor mentioned anywhere in social media, even in closed forums. Pictures of group events are verbotten. It is a highly structured and bureaucratized organization where applications, deadlines, rules, referrals and red tape are endemic.
  • Third-wave feminism, micro-aggressions, victimhood culture, safe spaces.
  • Transgenderism. Following the highly publicized Caitlyn Jenner archetype, OTD now boasts its own Caitlyn Jenner: Abby Stein.
  • A hostile environment for men seeking to date women, as women are taught to see men as uncouth aggressive sexoholics and to reject their advances, to look out for their own interests, and learn to say “no”.
  • Suppression of free speech when some claim to be offended by it, however frivolous the complaint may be.
  • Eating out in fancy restaurants, dressed to the nines, and comporting themselves in genteel fashion (including the requirement to leave a generous tip to demonstrate affluence).
  • Disdain for blue-collar employment and its culture.
  • Idolization of college, notwithstanding the dubious occupational benefits it confers in modern times.
  • Trump-bashing.
  • and so on.

 

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18 Responses to OTD Sector Roiled by Accusation of Rape

  1. Mandela Teitelbaum says:

    OTD are on drugs and fuck around than they sue each other for rape.

    Wow and footsteps is the facilitator of those orgies to jail and AIDS how nice!

    • miriam says:

      just the opposite..although addiction is an issue with many OTD The program is designed to help people cope in normal non cult society..they provide rehab and drug counseling and help for the many so called OTD that have been raped and molested by rabbis and other sick members of the so called frum communities that hide behind religion to look innocent so they can continue on with their crimes with full protection from the cult hasidic community.footsteps provides education grants to help members who otherwise would have been forced to try to live outside a community that shuns and abuses them unable to function and find work with what is basicly less than the equivelant of a 6th grade education.with grants they re able to learn trades and earn an honest livelihood..If these people are damaged it is very likely that the community and people critical of footsteps are the ones who damaged them..own it and stop judging all people in that group based on one incident..

      • Berl Baalchov says:

        Not one incident at all.

        We have here SEVEN victims who came forward.

        Just imagine how many are silent!

        Footsteps should be CLOSED DOWN NOW BY THE POLICE!!!

  2. Hasidic Man says:

    If you indeed have access to those OTD groups you would see that not only this brave one lady says there are other SIX women who complained about this particular perv. But many more said they know and have spoken to those other victims that you do not believe.

    Very not nice of this writer to cast doubt on their cries without any trial.

  3. Leeba Weisberg says:

    Please take this down. You are causing unnecessary suffering to a woman who has already suffered far too much. Your “facts” and “conclusions” are highly flawed.

  4. Chaya says:

    How is transgenderism a trend?
    What do u mean by eating out in a restaurant dressed to the nine’s?

    • Leeba Weisberg says:

      Transgenderism is not a trend. We have a transgender member who has received press coverage. It’s not as though being transgender is a common OTD thing. As for going to “fancy restaurants dressed to the nines” that’s crap. Most of the time OTD people go to regular pizza shops or other low key establishments and dress in regular clothes. Special occasions of course would warrant dressing up. Oh and tipping nicely is standard etiquette in the US given that waiters are paid less than minimum wage with the expectation that their service (if deserving) will be rewarded with tips. In NYC 18 – 20% is customary.

    • Jacob Gluck says:

      It is a trend if someone is applauded and rises to instant fame among his peers for making a heroic choice to switch genders. This would have been considered cuckoo before the Caitlyn Jenner days.

      • Chaya says:

        Can u elaborate on what u mean by eating out dressed to the nine’s?

      • Jacob Gluck says:

        It’s just one example of cultural appropriation. How ex-haredim who are not natively disposed to dress nicely and are likewise not accustomed to eating out, do so once they leave their communities because they sense that that’s what the prosperous class of bobos (bourgeois-bohemian, a David Brooks term) are doing and that is a sign of admittance to that class themselves.

        People ask me “what’s wrong with dressing u and eating out?” Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

        So long as the people are aware of what they’re doing and their motives. What I’m pointing out merely is the FACT, that the OTD community is emulating mainstream NYC bobo culture and doing so slavishly. If that’s their deliberate and measured objective, sure, so be it. Many, imo, are unaware of this. They follow these trends as if they’re dogma, with the same passion and commitment and blind acceptance as they used to follow haredi rules. That’s what I find so silly.

      • Leeba Weisberg says:

        Many OTD people are liberal politically and believe that transgender people should be treated with acceptance. Caitlyn Jenner brought the issue to the forefront but this was a common belief well before that. Battles were already being waged about whether people should be allowed to change the gender on their driver’s license or use their preferred restroom.

        As for dressing up and going out to eat, you forget that OTD people are diverse. Plenty of OTD people did go out to dinner with their families as children. And for those who didn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to become a part of the culture outside of the frum community. It takes some time for people to find their place in the outside world having grown up in such an insular community. But that doesn’t mean that OTD people walk in lockstep – quite the contrary.

  5. Mo Gelber says:

    some people in the otd group have their heads so far up their asses they can still wear their shtreimels

  6. Abe says:

    Great artical…

  7. Dear Leni Santo says:

    Jacob Gluck has brought the cries of SEVEN!!!!!!! single moms AGAINST YOU here to the world, that they were abused in the capacity of your social help support group called Footsteps.

    Not in your office per se but the abusers and the victims were introduced to each other thru the various Footsteps social support groups, programs and events.

    You are not the Police nor the goverment. But as somebody who has dedicated your life to helping those most vulnerable; those most abused; those most in need of support; and those most heroic to me as elaborated above: “Single mothers, who fight not only for their own lives, but for their kids’ lives” – I cannot stand silent!

    You must enact today some Sex policy for all Footsteps members to live by and oblige by and throw them out if anyone is accused until they can prove they are innocent.

    Footsteps has to be a safe heaven on earth, a safe zone, for all those broken Jews you want to help. And remember your clientele never had any education whatsoever, never mind “sex” education, so if footsteps cannot do the minimum first and foremost, to protect those victims of our society, than you should close down now your whole organisation

    No good deed can do justice for one single Jewish mom abused!

  8. Ari Feldman says:

    Of the Jewish Daily Forward took the effort to interview some of the victims mentioned above.

    And they are reporting that Footsteps has terminated the accused’s membership.

    http://forward.com/news/national/382483/exclusive-3-ex-orthodox-women-accuse-community-member-of-sexual-assault/?attribution=home-hero-item-text-1

  9. sara says:

    I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened. But the idea that her trying to being polite and avoiding confrontation while avoiding further encounters with him- to act as if this somehow proves she was not raped- that’s just ludicrous.thats actually a very reasonable way to behave.

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