July 02, 2019

Officials have substantiated multiple accusations of child sexual abuse by a preschool teacher at a prominent synagogue in Washington, DC, according to a cease-and-desist letter sent by the DC superintendent of education to the synagogue in June.

The letter says the district's Child and Family Services Agency found that "more than one child was a victim of sexual abuse by the alleged maltreator" at Washington Hebrew Congregation's preschool.

CNN obtained a copy of the letter through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Founded in 1852, Washington Hebrew Congregation, is one of DC's oldest and most prominent Jewish institutions, attended by the city's Jewish elites for generations.

But the congregation and its early childhood education center have been thrown into turmoil since allegations of child sexual abuse arose last August. The cease-and-desist letter is believed to be the first public finding of an investigation into the alleged abuse at the school by DC authorities.

The school allegedly allowed the accused abuser to lead groups of children to a wooded area outside the center and the bathroom, and dismissed other staff members' verbal complaints about the alleged maltreator "disappearing with children for periods of time," according to the letter.

The center did not enforce its policy prohibiting staff members from using cellphones at the school, which the alleged abuser used to take videos and pictures of children, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

The center's former director also threatened to reprimand staff members who complained about the alleged abuser, the agency says.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education's letter instructs Washington Hebrew Congregation to cease and desist from the alleged violations and to comply with an action plan to correct them.

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Parents filed suit in April

In April, the families of eight young children filed suit against the congregation and its former director, D.J. Jensen, alleging that they ignored warnings about the teacher for more than two years. DC's Metropolitan Police Department and the district's attorney general are also investigating the alleged abuse at the congregation's Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center.

In May 2019, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education was notified that another child told a psychologist the alleged abuser touched the child inappropriately, according to the agency's letter.

The parents' lawsuit alleges that the abuser is Jordan Silverman, a former teacher at Washington Hebrew Congregation's preschool. Silverman, who was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, has not been charged with any crimes in relation to the alleged abuse and has denied the allegations in the suit.

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"I am hurt beyond words to learn that this temple received confirmation from CFSA (Child and Family Services Agency) that my child and other preschoolers were sexually abused and they continue to deny it and they refuse to apologize for it," the parent said in a statement provided by the families' attorney, Michael Dolce.

 

The complete article can be accessed here.