Australian Jewish lawyer suspended from practice for rebuking child sex abuse victim

(JTA) – An attorney in Melbourne, Australia who said “Jewish people should not assist police investigating another Jewish person” has been banned from practice for 15 months for rebuking a victim of child sexual abuse who co-operated with police.

Alex Lewenberg made the comments twice in 2011 while representing a now-convicted child sex abuser, David Cyprys, who is serving a prison sentence after being found guilty of raping one boy and molesting eight others while employed at the Melbourne Yeshivah Centre and College.

Lewenberg made the comment in court for a bail hearing and in a telephone conversation with an abuse victim who was secretly recorded.

The judgment delivered Tuesday by Judge Pamela Jenkins at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal contained the contents of a written apology from Lewenberg to the victim known only as AVB, in which Lewenberg wrote: “I apologize to you for what I said and I deeply regret the real hurt and harm those words have caused you.”

Lewenberg was also ordered to pay court costs of more than $55,000 to the Legal Services commissioner who prosecuted the case.

In imposing the ban on practicing law, Jenkins noted it was the fifth time Lewenberg had faced disciplinary action and said the apology “fell short of any expression of genuine remorse.” She also ordered Lewenberg to complete a legal education course in ethics and professional responsibility.

In her judgment, Jenkins said Lewenberg had spoken to the victim’s foster parent “expressing his disappointment” in the victim’s conduct.

The ban becomes effective on June 1.

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