As of today, only two survivors of Marc Gafni's (also known as Mordechai Gafni, Mordechai Winiarz, or Mordechai Winyarz) abuses have come forward with their names and their stories. They are the two who were youngest (that we know about) and who were raped (Judy Mitzner Rogers and now Sara Kabakov). Gafni's 3rd ex-wife came forward with her story, both in a deposition by email many years ago, and recently in a first-person account in the Times of Israel, of life being married to Gafni, but she has chosen not to have her name attached to those stories.
[See also, Marc Gafni: Beneath and Behind the Denials]
A Little Background
Gafni has denied that he raped Sara, claiming the "relationship" was about love in the recent NYT story about him.
Mr. Gafni was quoted saying they had been in love. He added, “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.” In a recent interview, the woman, who asked not to be identified, said that she stood by her account from 2004 and that the encounters were not consensual.Gafni's story does not mesh at all with the way Sara experienced his molestation (which was statutory rape, but the statute of limitations has expired):
I remember clearly that when he tried to touch me, I pushed him away, repeatedly. I remember saying “No!” over and over again. No one had talked to me about sexual abuse, but I remember knowing intuitively, with every cell of my body, that this was wrong.Does the young girl in the picture below look like she's "14 going on 35"?
This pattern repeated itself, from the fall of 1980 through the spring of 1981. I became a girl disconnected from the world around her, inhabiting instead one full of contradiction and betrayal. I was trapped in a horrible situation with no way out that I could see. If I told, I would be blamed and shamed for what had happened.
Each morning after being molested, I would wake up and walk into the living room, and see him wildly shuckling, rocking back and forth while beating his chest. He said he was doing teshuvah, repenting for what he had done the night before, and he told me that I should join him in doing teshuvah, too. I didn’t pray or do teshuvah, but just stared at him in disbelief. He really believed that I was a partner in sin. And then it would happen again: After every fervent bout of repentance, he would wake me up in the middle of the night the following week.
Sara did not come forward with her story, in her own name, until her essay, January 12th, 2016, at The Forward (linked to above). She had told it, publicly, once before--anonymously--to Gary Rosenblatt for his 2004 expose on Gafni's abuse history.
In the months following the end of Gafni's abuse, she tried to tell someone what had happened to her twice. Both times she was ignored or dismissed. When she was 18, she had the courage to finally tell her parents, but their response was, "How could you let him do that to you?" And we wonder why girls and women do not tell their stories.
Over the years, when I told people about the abuse I endured at Gafni’s hands, many asked, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?” That’s a good question. But a better question is what happened when I did tell. It was almost as if I had told no one. People in the Jewish community who had the power and stature to make the abuse stop did not step up.
On the other hand, Judy Mitzner told her story and had a friend, Susan, to support her (both Judy and Susan were threatened by Gafni to stay silent).
I didn’t wait until years later to reveal what happened, as many do. I spoke out in 1986 right after it happened, and so few would even listen let alone accept it as truth. I continued to tell my story, continued to cry out for help on so many levels and so little was done. I was shuffled around and told to keep quiet even by those who knew the truth. No one wanted to believe that this could happen in the Rabbinate.
It was then that Susan told me that she had already heard from Mordechai. He had called her prior to Shabbat “warning” her about my “delusional” stories, my emotional instability and attempting to compel her into allegiance. Susan diligently listened to the facts, my fears, and unequivocally assured me of her loyalty and confidence in my credibility. She told me that he had made inappropriate advances to her in the past. Susan was there for me through what would be the remaining eighteen months of hell. We were kids trying to figure out how to handle this trauma with no help or support from our parents or the community. I don’t remember much after that conversation.
I do remember telling my parents with Susan by my side what had occurred. I remember how they blamed me since it was I who left the house to begin with. I remember the next year and a half of harassment and mental games.
It is believed that only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013; Wolitzky-Taylor et al, 2010) [1, 2]. And if the survivor knows the perpetrator, the real number is much lower:
- When an offender is an intimate partner or former intimate partner, only 25 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police.
- When an offender is a friend or acquaintance, only 18 to 40 percent of sexual assaults are reported.
- When an offender is a stranger, between 46 and 66 percent of sexual assaults are reported. (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003) 
Those who do not report sex offenses offer one or more of the following reasons:
- Fear of reprisal
- Personal matter
- Reported to a different official
- Not important enough to respondent
- Belief that the police would not do anything to help
- Belief that the police could not do anything to help
- Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
- Did not want family to know
- Did not want others to know
- Not enough proof
- Fear of the justice system
- Did not know how
- Feel the crime was not “serious enough”
- Fear of lack of evidence
- Unsure about perpetrator’s intent (D. Kilpatrick et al., 2007; U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013; Wolitzky-Taylor et al, 2010) [4, 1, 2]
If the survivor knows the perpetrator, there is even more fear, and more self-recrimination, and more doubt that it was not consensual ("maybe I led him on," or "maybe I misunderstood' or "I could have gotten away somehow" or "why did I freeze").
As a result of the low reporting rates, only 9 percent of rapists are prosecuted. Of those, only 5 percent result in a felony conviction. And only 2-3 percent of rapists are sent to prison for even one day.
- 97-98 percent of rapists get away with it, and walk away, free to assault again.
Sociopaths Are Predators Who Often Do Not Rape
When the offender is a psychopath or a sociopath, all of the usual rules are confused and confusing.
As I mentioned in a previous post, psychopath and sociopath are often used interchangeably. I tend to use the term sociopath for those whose childhood likely created their pathology, while most researchers believe psychopaths are born with deficits in neural networks or some other physical pathology in the brain. Robert Hare (creator of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, the most widely accepted scale) is the expert on this topic.
It's important to note that all psycho- or sociopaths are antisocial personality disordered (APD) and narcissistic, but not all of those with APD or narcissism are psycho- or sociopaths.
Marc Gafni is a sociopath.
Aside from the first two women mentioned at the top (Sara and Judy), Gafni has never been accused of rape, and possibly has not committed an outright rape (by legal definitions). However, he has manipulated women into willingly having sex with him through seduction and, some survivors claim, mind control.
Terry Patten (a former "friend" of Gafni's) comments on the "mind control" aspect of Gafni in his recent blog post.
The egregious violations I saw firsthand were not primarily sexual. What in my experience has been most outrageously diabolical is his unique way of getting inside people’s heads and subtly casting a spell on them, and then using that influence to influence or manipulate others. To be used in this way is a form of abuse. To add sexuality to it, is even more hurtful.[Emphasis added.]
This skill is common to socio- and psychopaths. It's called cognitive empathy, and it's inherent in the "Dark Triad."
According to Daniel Goleman:
But there can be a dark side to this sort of empathy – in fact, those who fall within the “Dark Triad” – narcissists, Machiavellians, and sociopaths (see Chapter 8 in Social Intelligence) – can be talented in this regard, while having no sympathy whatever for their victims.Jackson MacKenzie is the author of Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People (2015), and also has a blog called Psychopath Free. In a post on sexual manipulation, she talks about how seduction by a psycho- or sociopath can feel authentic and intimate, until it doesn't.
Here is an excerpt from that article:
Sex with the psychopath seemed perfect at first. They knew exactly where to touch you, what to say, and when to do the right things. You were perfectly compatible in the bedroom, right?
Well, sort of.
Like everything else, the psychopath also mirrored your deepest sexual desires. That’s why it felt so incredibly passionate and flawless when you were together—and that’s why it feels like rape during the identity erosion....
You find yourself in a desperate situation, needing their sexual approval and flattery to feel attractive. They use this to control their targets. They pull away in order to make you seem desperate, needy, and slutty. In the idealize phase, they couldn’t get enough of you. But once they have you hooked, they begin to play mind games.
- Idealization Phase
- Devaluation Phase
- Discard Phase
The idealization phase (which often happens most strongly during the early stages of dating or a relationship) consists of putting you on a pedestal, making you the center of his/her world, being in contact with you frequently, and showering you with flattery and praise. You are convinced that the narcissist can’t live without you and that you’ve met your soulmate. Be wary of: constant texting, shallow flattery and wanting to be around you at all times. This is a technique known as “lovebombing” and it is how most victims get sucked inPart of this process for the predator is that he will try to make you think that if you could stop being so “needy,” “clingy,” or “jealous,” then he will become the loving partner he was in the beginning of the relationship [except, that was all a show].
The devaluation phase is subsequent to this idealization phase, and this is when you’re left wondering why you were so abruptly thrust off the pedestal. The narcissist will suddenly start to blow hot and cold, criticizing you, covertly and overtly putting you down, comparing you to others, emotionally withdrawing from you and giving you the silent treatment when you’ve failed to meet their “standards.”
The narcissist makes you seem like the needy one as you react to his or her withdrawal and withholding patterns even though the expectations of frequent contact were established early on in the relationship by the narcissist himself.
This is a form of gaslighting he uses against his victims. It's how sociopaths control their victim's "legitimate emotional reactions to their stonewalling, emotional withdrawal, and inconsistency."
During the discard phase, the narcissist abandons his or her victim in the most horrific, demeaning way possible to convince the victim that he or she is worthless. This could range from: leaving the victim for another lover, humiliating the victim in public, being physically aggressive, and a whole range of other demeaning behaviors to communicate to the victim that he or she is no longer important.Gafni has done this repeatedly over the years. Each of the women who claim he victimized them have experienced this process (including, in part, Judy and Sara, who were raped).
Idealization Phase: Gafni woos them, seduces them, tells them how special or unique they are, then begins a sexual relationship with them. He asks them to respect the "sacredness" of the container in which they come together (read: stay silent). Over time he demands more and more of their time and energy, cutting them off from supports who might question his motives.
Judy Mitzner was quoted in the New York Daily News:
It started with compliments and extra attention, eventually leading to the night when the rabbi appeared in her basement bedroom.In an earlier statement, from 2004, given to Gary Rosenblatt, editor of Jewish Journal, Judy offered more detail:
Mordechai Winiarz paid attention to me. He told me how intelligent and special I was. I spent many Shabbat lunches with him and his wife feeling like I had finally found a family. I began keeping kosher and abiding by the laws of modesty. Mordechai had awarded me JPSYer of the Year.In a 2006 article in Forward, it was reported that an Orthodox couple in Boca Raton was interviewed for a Ma’ariv profile on Gafni. The couple claimed that Gafni "sexually preyed on their 23-year-old daughter" while acting as visiting rabbi in Kfar Saba (a city in the Sharon region, of the Center District of Israel). Gafni is alleged to have told her that he wanted to leave his wife and marry her.
“We taped him saying to our daughter, ‘I love you very much. I dream of the day we will be together,’” the couple told Ma’ariv. “When the story became known, Gafni left Kfar Saba.” The couple’s daughter told Ma’ariv that she subsequently found out that Gafni was having similar relationships with other young women.This is how the sociopath seduces and charms--and Gafni was doing this as a young man. Reports I have heard from survivors over the last decade confirm similar experiences.
Devaluation Phase: Gafni begins to lose interest, insults them if they don't perfectly parrot his "teachings," covertly at first, then overtly, and in front of others. He will lose sexual interest, and at this point the woman will discover (if she has not already), the depth of his porn addiction. The sex will become demeaning, calling the woman a whore and similarly offensive things.
Gafni did this with his 3rd ex-wife, according to a deposition she gave by email in 2006.
While we were being intimate, he would demand that I repeat, "I am a whore." I reluctantly went along with this at first. Eventually I refused to say it. ... Additionally, he viewed pornography on a regular basis; including paying money to have memberships to certain sites. Eventually his computer and email were so full of pornography that he paid tens of hundreds of dollars to get it cleaned, for fear that someone may see it and that he would lose his job.The sociopath begins to compare her to other women or other "lovers," become emotionally distant, or close her out with silence if she fails to meet his needs or standards. He will make her feel she is needy and irrational. As Arabi points out:
Since the “hot” aspect of this phase relies on intermittent reinforcement in which the narcissist gives you inconsistent spurts of the idealization phase throughout, you become convinced that perhaps you are at fault and you can “control” the narcissist’s reactions.Arabi goes on to outline the border zone when the victim begins to understand fully who the sociopath is, and likely feels trapped--she realizes now that she has become the victim.
You are mislead into thinking that if you just learn not to be so “needy,” “clingy,” or “jealous,” the narcissist will reward you with the loving behavior he or she demonstrated in the beginning. The narcissist may use these and other similar words to gaslight victims when they react normally to being provoked.Discard Phase: At this point, he is done and ready to move on (if the woman has not already escaped or started speaking with the "other women" he has been sleeping with). Or he will stop hiding his other sexual relationships and even flaunt them. Often, according to Arabi, the goal for him is to humiliate the woman and make her feel worthless.
Here is how his 3rd ex-wife described her experience of being discarded:
January 2002: Dear God, I’m confused. He has this “teaching partner”. He spends all of his time with her. I don’t like the energy between them. I have pleaded with him to stop working with her. He refuses. Claims I am being jealous, needy. I asked if they are having an affair. He went off into a loud round of denial. Says I am insecure, delusional. Please God, help me stop being so jealous, so sad, so needy.She was correct--he was sleeping with his teaching partner, as well as students. Then there is this, an example of how the energy suck of narcissists (as mentioned, all sociopaths and psychopaths are narcissists) causes physical illness as well as psychological confusion:
Oxford, May 2003: Please God, help me. I am sick…often. I am having these migraine headaches. My skull is exploding. I can’t breathe. My chest is sealed shut. I am a shell. When I go outside people come up to me rambling about how my husband is sleeping with this woman who comes to his classes. He promises me it’s all lies. All I know is that I am hurting, God. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I am not well. Please God let these headaches end.Sometimes, the discard phase includes a "smear campaign" in which the sociopath portrays the woman as unstable, needy, or otherwise dysfunctional. Among his support network, this often works, according to Arabi, because his network is other narcissists/sociopaths, people pleasers, empaths, and those who are easily swayed (this is so true of Gafni). Further,
This smear campaign accomplishes three things: 1) it depicts you as the abuser or unstable person and deflects your accusations of abuse, 2) it provokes you, thus proving your instability to others when trying to argue his or her depiction of you, and 3) serves as a hoovering technique in which the narcissist seeks to pull you back into the trauma of the relationship as you struggle to reconcile the rumors about you with who you actually are by speaking out against the accusations.Gafni has a history of getting others around him, his supporters, to help him defame his accusers, as well as his victims. This is from Russ Cushin, in the Jewish Week, who orchestrated a letter of support (with other former students of Gafni's) for the petition initiated by rabbi David Ingber to stop Gafni from abusing again.
A computer technician, Cashin said that during the time he was in the maggid program he was asked by Gafni to search the Internet for information on two of Gafni’s most outspoken critics. “He wanted to rebuild his reputation and wanted me to dig up material on them to taint their reputation.”In the prior quote from Arabi, she mentioned hoovering. Hoovering is a term used to describe the way narcissists (and sociopaths) try to suck prior victims back into the trauma bond, and thereby replenish what Andrea Schneider calls their "narcissistic supply." The sociopath will attempt this with feigned offers of an apology or "clearing the air," which Gafni has done with several survivors of his abuse.
When a survivor has gone no-contact—in other words, the survivor has chosen to disengage completely from the abusive person—often the person with narcissism will attempt to see if the door is still open for more narcissistic supply. He or she may “hoover” prior survivors by emailing, texting, phoning, or showing up at a survivor’s workplace or residence under the pretext of apologizing for transgressions, delivering flowers, hitting the reset button, or feigning illness or a need for assistance (money, return of belongings, etc.).In the 2004 Jewish Journal article cited above, Gafni said he has tried to contact Sara and "heal" the situation:
When told of the woman's comments, Gafni said he would like the situation to be "healed," adding that his attempt to do so several years ago went unheeded.Here is a more detailed account of how that transpired (quoted from Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out):
Back in 2001, survivor number one received a telephone call from Winiarz/Gafni supporter Naomi Mark, ACSW. Naomi's goal was for a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to meet with her offender. Naomi told this survivor that Marc Winiarz/Gafni wanted to make amends. She told the survivor that Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni had wrote a letter stating: “he thought the survivor was hurting because he ended their relationship instead of marrying her”. He wanted to apologize for "breaking her heart.”Sara was wise not to meet with him. As was Judy, who has refused Gafni's efforts to clear the air (if they were ever really made). The Times of Israel reported:
The survivor told Ms. Mark that she would not meet with the man who raped her. The survivor disclosed that she let Naomi Mark know that “the relationship” Winiarz/Gafni was referring to should be called RAPE. A far cry from what Winiarz/Gafni called a “heartache, or a fallen romance.”
[Gafni] claimed he has repeatedly tried to contact Mitzner “to create resolution.”
“She has always refused,” Gafni said. “I want reach out right now, as I have many times over the years through third parties, and invite Judy into a mediated conversation where we could transform this from hatred to goodness and truth and beauty.”Judy's version is a LOT different.
As for his claims that he has repeatedly tried to contact me to “create a resolution” – this is as well entirely false. I have never heard from him nor would I want to. He victimized me, and no mediated conversation “could transform this from hatred to goodness and truth and beauty”.Why would any survivor of an abuser who continues to deny his actions want to sit down with him and "create a resolution"? The ONLY valid resolution is for Gafni to take responsibility for what he has done to so many women.
Not only does the sociopath demean and humiliate the victim, but if she takes her experience public he will malign and discredit the woman and her experience. This has been Marc Gafni's pattern since his very first abuses as a young rabbi.
For example, this is from the 2004 Jewish Journal article on Gafni:
Gafni said that Judy was a troubled, unstable teenager who fabricated the story after he rebuffed her advances.And this from the recent NYT article:
[Gafni] said that old claims against him were all exaggerated, the result of professional resentment, and that he had been the victim of pseudofeminist witch hunts.Gafni makes himself the victim of Judy in this quote from The Times of Israel:
“For 31 years she has been encouraged to be a victim. Judy is not acting alone. She is a part of well-organized and funded social group. She received strong social approval and reward for being a hero breaking the silence, which is ironic because she has not stopped talking about this and attacking me for decades in so many different ways, causing me and my children and friends a massive amount of substantive damage and pain,” said Gafni.There is no "well-organized and funded social group." Judy has been alone in a desert of denials and dismissals. Only other survivors have offered moral support. She says it even more clearly:
I would like to make something PERFECTLY clear I have always acted alone. I have never been part of a “well-organized and funded social group”. Please, if that is the case why am I the one struggling to make ends meet while he sits “looking out of his home office on Monterey Bay”?In the New York Daily News article, Gafni is quoted again making himself the victim:
“This is sexual McCarthyism,” insisted Gafni, who provided polygraph tests to support his position. “What they’re doing is social media rape.”And
“What they’re doing is a terrible thing,” Gafni said. “It’s an affront to all true victims. They claim victimhood in a way that’s not right, that’s false.”This reversal, making him the victim, is a common tactic by perpetrators, part of what Jennifer Freyd at the University of Oregon calls DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.
DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim -- or the whistle blower -- into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.A more nuanced and detailed version of this model appears in Freyd's Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren't Being Fooled (2013).
Gafni is very proficient with the attack aspect of DARVO. Here are the comments of Susan, the first person Judy told about what Gafni did to her. Susan was a 22-year-old adviser in JPSY-- she believed what Judy told her. From Rosenblatt's 2004 article:
She said that when she took Judy's side, Gafni made harassing phone calls and threats against her.When Judy came forward, his attacks on her were more withering and long-lasting:
"He told me I would regret it," Susan said, adding that the rabbi made inappropriate advances to her, as well.
Judy said he abused her sexually on two occasions. Even more upsetting, she said, was that afterward, the rabbi tried to convince her the encounter did not happen, and then harassed her for many months. He threatened to keep her out of Jewish schools (she was seeking to transfer from public school to a yeshiva), called her home at all hours of the night and then hung up, mailed pictures to her home of naked men and had her followed.Trying to convince her that what she experienced never happened is gaslighting. From Wikipedia:
Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.Gafni always reverses the victim-offender dynamic. He accused Judy of being "highly initiatory" in the NYT follow-up story in Tablet. He went further in the article in the New York Daily News:
Gafni charged that Mitzner spun her story from “20 minutes of fooling around” — and claims he spurned her invitation to sleep together.So being a 26-year-old rabbi who fondles a 16-year-old who is crying and begging him to stop is "one-time mistake," a "mistake" that actually happened twice, with him crawling naked into her bed, and with him penetrating her with his fingers?
“A one-time mistake,” he claimed. “There’s a difference between a mistake and predatory (behavior).”
He reversed the offender-victim dynamic with his 3rd ex-wife, as well, as she detailed in the 2006 email deposition:
If I didn't agree with him on something then he would burst into a rage and tell me how stupid I was. But more than that, he would tell me how unloving, insensitive and selfish I was. Convincing me that I was the evil, selfish, unloving one was one of his most powerful tools of manipulation.Conclusions
For those people who have wondered why more of Gafni's victims have not come forward, this post should have explained it for you. If not, then I failed to fully convey how difficult Gafni can make life for those who do come forward.
Gafni's retaliations can be difficult. I have been told by more than survivor that Gafni keeps files on anyone he suspects he might have to discredit, collecting anything he can to make the person look "unstable" or unreliable.
He also engages in DARVO with every accuser. He denies that it happened, or that he did anything wrong. He attacks the accuser and tries to discredit her (or him), or he has his supporters attack so that he can appear to take the "high ground." And if those two efforts fail, he reverses the offender (him) and the victim, and he often does it very publicly, such as in interviews.
Then there are the statistics, cited above, showing that women who know their perpetrators are much less likely to report than if they do not know the perpetrator.
Considering all of this, it's amazing that any of the survivors have come forward.
All sources for quotes are linked.
These statistical references are the exception:
1. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, M. Planty and L. Langton, “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010,” 2013
2. Wolitzky-Taylor et al, “Is Reporting of Rape on the Rise? A Comparison of Women with Reported Versus Unreported Rape Experiences in the National Women’s Study-Replication,” 2010
3. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, T. Hart and C. Rennison, “Reporting Crime to the Police, 1992-2000,” 2003
4. D. Kilpatrick et al., “Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study,” 2007;