Molested Child

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Molested Child consists of a 1950’s mannequin that has a neon light (stating the words “still there”) attached to its back. The sculpture rotates on a Christmas tree stand that is part of the artwork. I used a Christmas tree stand, because when I once told someone that little kids should be taught about good touch/bad touch, he got mad at me and said that little kids should be taught about Santa Claus. This artwork is about the same situation that Invalidation Project: Scrolling Sign #1 is about. The following is a direct quote from Invalidation Project: Scrolling Sign #1: “Shortly after turning 15, I had graduated from Junior high. That Summer, one teacher from 8th grade, invited me to his house and touched me inappropriately. This happened 3 or 4 times. It took me ten years to report the incidents via telephone to the Department of Children and Family Services. The social worker, with whom I spoke, was very concerned for the teacher’s well-being. She told me that he might lose his pension. She also told me that it was my fault too and encouraged me to leave the matter alone. She did pass certain information on to the police. When I was contacted by an officer, he told me that the social worker had given the police an incorrect address for the school. I don’t know if the school administration was ever alerted. It’s been 19 years and it appears that he might still be there at the same school. I recently spoke to a teacher who told me that the Department of Children and Family Services has a tendency to minimize the behavior of abusive individuals.”

The following is a letter that I completed writing in October. The letter was directed at the principal of the school. I was about to send the letter, but when searching for the principal’s email address, I learned that the school had closed down months ago (due to funding issues). I’m not certain how to get in contact with the former principal, or if it would even help anything at this point. Therefore, I have decided to post the letter to my website.

“Hi Mr. Harosh,

I don’t know if you remember me, but I was once a student at your school. My name is James Berson. When I was a student at Etz Jacob I had a teacher named Mr. Gabbay. He seemed like a nice guy, but he did something very wrong to me. I remember when I was in 8th grade, he mentioned that he wanted 1 or 2 of the other kids to visit him at his home. I don’t know if anyone else ever visited him, but I did about 3 times. Shortly after finishing 8th grade (within days or possibly weeks) he invited me over. I had just turned 15 about a month prior. At the time, he lived in a backhouse within very easy walking distance from my house.

When I came over, he touched me inappropriately. He pressured me into taking my pants off and he touched my naked butt. On one occasion he put his fingers on my butt crack and asked me if my butt was clean. He wanted to touch my anus, but when I said that it wasn’t clean, he moved his hand away. He also kissed me on the lips. I was obviously vulnerable and I allowed him to do these things, which he clearly knew that I did not enjoy (of course, he would have been wrong even if I was enthusiastically pursuing him). He even told me once that it made him happy knowing that I was doing things that I didn’t want to do. He actually said this! Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t realize what a horrible person he was. The impression that I got was that it made him happy knowing that someone was going out of their way for him. The reality is that he simply was taking advantage of a vulnerable child.

When he kissed me, I would clench my teeth shut and he would try to force his tongue past my teeth and into my mouth. He never was able to get past my teeth, since teeth are harder than someone’s tongue, but nonetheless it was disgusting. It has been approximately 19 years since this happened. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed, but I still think about it. Although, up until very recently, I told myself that I was the only student who he abused in this way, I now can’t help but to think about how many other kids he might have treated with the same disregard for basic human decency. It’s not easy for me to write to you about this, but I have waited as long as I possibly could to finally try to get some closure on this situation. He took advantage of me and made it obvious that he knew exactly what he was doing.

For a teacher to sexually take advantage of a child is inexcusable. Abraham Gabbay shouldn’t be teaching children. He got away with this for too long already, and I think that it’s time that the truth come out. He is not the type of person who children should be exposed to in any way. There are plenty of other teachers who need a job and are not child molesters.

I read that your school had recently closed down. It saddens me because I know that the school, overall, was doing wonderful things for the community. If you have any plans to reopen the school, I urge you to not bring Abraham Gabbay, back as a teacher or any other position. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

James Berson”