Monday, January 5, 2015

When it's Someone you Know: Levi Moscowitz

I’ve been torn inside and out ever since I found out that someone who I otherwise knew to be a good friendly guy, someone that I shared good memories in yeshiva with, pleaded no contest to one of the most heinous crimes that has ever come across the arsenal of cases that I’m personally familiar with.


Levi Moscowitz committed suicide on Saturday in Griffith park in Los Angeles. This came just weeks after the charges against him as well as a very damning police report became public. Despite having known Levi for over 10 years and once considering him a close friend, I knew that sharing this information with the public was crucial to the safety of any and all children that he may have come into contact with. At the same time though, his death brings about some very unfortunate realities and issues that have yet to be addressed when confronting this cancer of sexual abuse.


While there are many who have expressed no remorse over his death, and others who even seemed to rejoice in it, I don’t think these people realize how Levi’s death is a loss for everyone. Most of us want to see an end or at least some respite for the millions of people who are suffering from having been victims of sexual abuse, and there are also many of us who know that we have to face the perpetrator and the issues they face as well. For every comment out there directed at Levi posthumously, comments that while they were directed at Levi himself, were also aimed at other pedophiles and potential pedophiles, an opportunity to learn from these people and how to help them, and maybe even prevent them, drifts farther and farther away.


As Jewish Community Watch correctly pointed out many times, there are many individuals who struggle with the inclination to hurt children but choose not to. And then there are the ones who do but spend the rest of their lives trying to make up for it. And of course, there are the ones who who don’t ever realize or accept their wrongdoings and choose not to take responsibility for them, or even worse, brag about their crimes. Levi fell into the last category. In the aforementioned police report Levi is said to have bragged about what he had done to other innocent victims. Indeed, anyone who read that police report was able to deduce the unfortunate reality that Levi Moscowitz was a very very sick person.


The thing is, while he was sick and had been on this downward spiraling path for quite some time already (18 months ago I expressed concern to a few mutual friends about the things he was doing in LA), there are many of us who didn’t know him as this dark tormented dangerous predator. We simply knew him as someone who was a friend, a brother, a son, a classmate. The hardest part for all of us was accepting that this person we knew and loved had these demons and was capable of such horrible things. None of us dug our heads in the sand and pretended these things weren’t true, but we also didn’t make it our mission to let him know that he was a sick person not worthy of living in this world. No, we wanted him to know that while we judged him for his crimes, he was still the Levi we once knew and we still hoped there was a chance that he would change his path and attempt to make amends for his crimes and maybe even help us learn from others like him in order to prevent and be more aware of the warning signs with such people in the future.


I don’t know exactly why I decided to write this honestly. It was just last week that I told multiple people that I was afraid of this very thing happening. It was clear that Levi was moving downhill fast and that there was nothing any of us could’ve done about it, but it’s still heartbreaking nonetheless.


I respectfully ask that those who didn’t know him personally remember that he was someone’s child, friend, brother. Those people are and have the full right to grieve for him. By telling those people that their friend is better off dead you aren’t contributing to this epidemic and are only adding to those peoples’ pain. While some might think that it’s ideal for all pedophiles to kill themselves, nothing could be further from the truth. If we don’t give these people a chance to do right by their crimes or to seek help before they commit them, how can we expect them to come to us and ask for help? After all, we KNOW that there are others who haven’t committed any crimes and want help.

In conclusion I’d like to wish my deepest condolences to his family and friends who knew him. Many of us started mourning him a long time ago but as long as he was still alive there was always the chance that maybe one day he would try and do right by his past and use it to make the world a safer place. In death, he will never be able to do that because death is the only thing that’s ever final. Please remember that while we categorically condemn his actions, there are other Levi’s out there who deserve the chance to not only try and atone for their crimes, but also the ones who never committed a crime against a child and want to do everything they can in order to avoid doing so.

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