A court in Australia has awarded over AUS $800,000 to a man who sought civil damages from the convicted serial pedophile who abused him as a child at an Orthodox school run by the Chabad movement’s Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne.
Other victims of David Cyprys have sued the center, but Manny Waks was the first to also take his attacker to court.
Justice Jacinta Forbes from the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday awarded AUS $804,170 (US $538,460) to Waks, who was abused at the center’s Yeshiva College school for boys.
“The two primary reasons for pursuing this case were justice and accountability,” Waks, who is also a prominent advocate for other victims of sexual abuse, wrote on his Facebook page. “As is so often the case, it is important for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to hold to account our abusers. It assists in our healing process. Money was a secondary factor – we still don’t know whether Cyprys even has the funds to cover the costs associated with this judgment.”
In her judgment Forbes said, “The occurrence of offending is such that by its occurrence it has led to hurt and humiliation and to psychiatric injury,” the Guardian newspaper reported. “He [Waks] describes days where he has a sense of paralysis and is unable to function at any level.”
Waks “contrasts times of being able to be productive, giving him a sense of empowerment, with other times of feeling futility and turmoil,” she said.
Cyprys, a locksmith who ran a company called Shomer Security, was charged in September 2011 with multiple counts of indecent assault and gross indecency for the alleged sexual assault of students at Yeshivah College in Melbourne between 1984 and 1991. He was convicted of raping one boy and abusing eight others two years later and sentenced to four years in prison.
He was released from Hopkins Correctional Centre in October 2019 and then rearrested and extradited to Sydney in New South Wales, where he faces further abuse charges. Those incidents — alleged sexual assault and acts of indecency — occurred in the Sydney suburb of Bondi in the 1980s, the Sydney Morning Herald reported in October.
The damages were awarded to Waks a day before a Jerusalem court ruled on allowing further expert opinions to be submitted in the extradition case of Mallka Leifer, who is wanted by Australia authorities to face dozens of sexual abuse charges allegedly committed when she was a principal at an ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne.
In 2008, as the allegations surfaced, the Israeli-born Leifer left the school in Australia and returned to Israel.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court granted the request of her attorneys that they be allowed to submit medical opinions contradicting the conclusions of a psychiatric panel that had found the alleged sex abuser mentally fit for extradition to Australia.
The decision to allow psychiatrists Moshe Kotler and Sam Tiano, who testified last year that Leifer suffers from severe mental illness and is therefore not fit for extradition, to submit their opinions will almost certainly force the prosecution to cross-examine the two doctors, further extending the already nearly six-year-long proceedings, a legal official told The Times of Israel.
Waks responded to the Jerusalem court decision by saying it “makes a mockery of the Israeli legal system,” the Guardian reported.
Last week, Australia’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan motion criticizing “numerous attempts to prevent and delay” Leifer’s extradition and calling on Israel to immediately send her back to Melbourne, where she faces 74 charges of child sex abuse.
Waks, who now lives in Israel, went public with his accusations against Cyprys in 2011, after which other victims also came forward. In 2018 Waks reached a settlement with the Yeshiva Center, although the details are bound by a confidentiality clause.
In 2016 Waks established Kol v’Oz, an advocacy and support group for survivors of sexual abuse in the Jewish community. He is currently also seeking legal action against another man from the Chabad organization he alleges abused him as a child.
Jacob Magid and JTA contributed to this report.