Yisrael Valis: No Signs of Abuse

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My friend and correspondent Moshe sent me the link to the testimony of Professor Yehuda Hiss, head of the Abu Kabir Institute for Forensic Medicine, now on Hyde Park. The most important line is this one:

לא מצא על התינוק סימנים המוכיחים כי ספג סטירות וכן לא מצא שום סימן נשיכה על צווארו של התינוק. עורכי דינו של ולס טוענים כי הדבר כי מהווה ראיה לכך שאין להסתמך על הודאתו של ולס, שאמר בחקירתו במשטרה כי נשך את בנו התינוק בצווארו.

He did not find signs on the baby proving that he had been struck, and similarly did not find any bite mark on his neck. Valis’ lawyers assert that this is proof that one cannot rely upon Valis’ confession, in which he admitted under police interrogation that he had bitten his child on the neck.

Moshe also writes:

I think that building up anticipation in either way is mistaken – there is still a ways to go here – and the case can go either way. It doesn’t pay to paint yourself into a corner – either guilty or innocent.

It is only prudent to agree. Although the title of my last post was “And the Case Comes A-Tumblin’ Down,” I also wrote (in the comments) that “I am not certain of anything other than that the wheels of justice should reach their conclusion before we reach ours.” We should not be jumping the gun.

That, however, pertains to the overall verdict. We’re still allowed to criticize those who already did jump the gun, in the other direction. The police told the press that they saw bite marks on the baby’s neck. They provided a horrific tale of long-term abuse, all of which, they said, was visible to their own eyes.

Meanwhile, the top forensic examiner in the country saw no bite marks and, in fact, no signs of abuse whatsoever.

The police convicted him in the press before ever going to trial. It’s not premature to say that.

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9 Responses

  1. mark says:

    Yaakov,

    I was pointing out basic human instinct. I never intended to justify the public’s knee-jerk reaction, but understood it as a sort of angry mob response. It is called being human. People, especially compassionate people, get excited when dead babies are involved – can you blame them?

    So, am I posul because I used two separate monikers within a short period? Puhleeze! Who in the blogosphere (I’m referring to commenters, for the most part) actually uses their real name? Besides, considering your rigorous censorship, I thought it would increase my chances of being posted.

    Anyway, I believe the Charedi community was slandered because the opinion of the Gedolim was that Valis must be innocent because his wife is defending him. I guess, according to that brilliant logic, an investigation is not even necessary – just ask the wife if the husband killed the baby…or beat her…or cheated on his taxes….

    By the way, I do commend you for publishing my posts. I was surprised.

  2. Yaakov Menken says:

    Since we moderate comments, you would think I would not allow two comments from the same troll using two different names (mark and m-kol posted from the same IP address, 15 minutes apart, at 1 a.m.). The reason I made an exception is because this is a fascinating example of a favorite Talmudic aphorism: Kol HaPosel, B’Mumo Posel. When Reuven tells you that Shimon is a no-goodnik, you should look carefully for the alleged defect in Reuven himself. “All who invalidate, invalidate with their own defect.”

    He accuses me of rushing to judgement — of expressing an “absolute defense,” and being “certain about Valis’ innocence.”

    My point has been, from the beginning, that there should be no rush to judgement, and that the premature media lynching of Valis and the charedi community were unjust and unreasonable. I said that the police lied, that Valis was immediately convicted in the media, that we should use a presumption of innocence until proven guilty — as is required by the legal systems of civilized nations, beginning with the Torah itself: Havei Dan es Kol Adam L’Kaf Zechus, Judge Every Person Favorably — and that there was plenty of exculpatory evidence upon which to base such a presumption. I also said that the entire charedi community was slandered for daring to assume his innocence.

    Each of those statements is true and accurate, and I stand behind what I said.

    But for those too lazy to do the homework, here is what I said about whether he is actually innocent:

    April 25 — “We don’t know if he’s innocent or guilty.”
    June 9 — “Innocent until proven guilty means we leave it to a jury, not media reports—and leave our thoughts open to the possibility that a jury could wrongly convict, as well.”
    June 12 — “The Valis child died either as the result of a tragic accident, or frightful abuse.”
    And then, on August 14 — “Valis seems increasingly likely to remain free.”

    Which leads us to the other comment from the same source: that in his opinion, the dead child is reason enough for people to assume that Valis is guilty. Thankfully, most people do not leap to the conclusion that every dead child was murdered by his or her parents. Leaping to a conclusion like that is also contradictory to Torah values. But it is, in this case, a fascinating example of “Kol HaPosel” — of accusing me of rushing to judgement, in almost the same breath that he defends doing exactly that.

  3. m-kol says:

    Now, guided by the opinion of your “friend and correspondent,” you’re not as certain about Valis’ innocence as you were just a short while ago.

    You’re a sly fox, referencing a remark tucked away in the comments of your “tumblin’ down” post, so that you may wiggle your way out of your previously absolute defense of Valis. Only youare allowed to “jump the gun.” What a spinmaster.

  4. mark says:

    Yaakov,

    You are forgetting in your equation one important factor: the baby is dead. If that doesn’t invoke considerable pre-trial judgement by the public, I don’t know what else should.

  5. Moshe says:

    Yaakov,

    I disagree. The police were involved because they were called by the hospital staff. The hospital staff were the ones who suspected abuse – the police do not investigate every Charedi who checks into the hospital.

    Nowadays, with the advent of MRI’s, CT scans, Ultrasound, we can see many internal things as if they were external.

    The fact that the police lied and tried to convict the defendant in the press is indisputable. However, that does not mean that they did not have any objective reason to suspect abuse – from the testimony at the trial, they most definitely had reason for suspicion. The type of internal injuries the baby had are consistant with abuse – therefore warranting an investigation.

    Additionally, Dr. Hiss did not say he saw no external signs. He said that the external signs (bruises which most definitely existed, as they were photographed and submitted as evidence in the case) may have (or most probably – I don’t have time to check his exact wording) been caused by factors other than abuse. Other Doctors (notably Dr. Avi Rivkind – see previous testimony) who saw the baby earlier (who may not be as expert as Dr. Hiss is) may have thought the bruises were caused by abuse. I don’t thnk the police can be blamed for following the opinion of Dr. Rivkind – who gave his opinion before Dr. Hiss even saw the patient.

  6. Yaakov Menken says:

    Moshe,

    I was referring, in context, to that which could have been viewed by the police — which would have been the external signs only.

  7. Moshe says:

    Yaakov-

    Just to clarify one of the statements you made. You wrote:
    Meanwhile, the top forensic examiner in the country saw no bite marks and, in fact, no signs of abuse whatsoever.

    The statement is factually incorrect – all he stated was that he saw no external signs of abuse; he clearly stated that he was only referring to the external signs of abuse.

    He was not trying to say that there were no internal signs of abuse – he simply did not deal with that issue – that was dealt with by the previous Doctors, and I brought their opinions in this link:
    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2006/06/28/yisrael-valis-the-court-transcript/#comment-62410

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Rabbi Menken said, “The police convicted him in the press…”
    These two entities, the police and the press, are two interlocking parts of this dysfunctional system. Any ideas as to a cure?

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    It is certainly quote significant and ironic that Professor Hiss, who is not known for his favorable view of the Charedi community re other issues such as autopsies now has issued an opinion that vindicates the defendant.