As a personal injury trial lawyer it is unusual for us to use this space to write about anything other than serious injury legal issues. However, with the news that Rabbi Bryan Bramley of Temple Beth Sholom was accused of sexual assault, I felt it appropriate to address some legal issues in this case.
I have met Rabbi Bramley. My wife and I liked him in our one meeting with him.
An accusation such as this one can destroy an innocent man and his family. Understand that I am not making any judgment as to the truth or the allegation. I am in no position to know of Rabbi Bramley’s guilt or innocence. Importantly, neither are any of the people whose information on this is limited to media reports. None of us are in a position to question adequacy of the investigation, to know what the police did or did not investigate, or to know whether this allegation is true. Justice should be swift to anyone who commits a crime such as this. But, for an innocent man, should there be lifelong punishment as well? Of course, not.
I strongly encourage everybody to remember that “innocent until proven guilty” is not just some empty legal saying we throw out from time to time. Until the criminal process unfolds and we can know whether Rabbi Bramley is innocent or guilty of these charges, none of us should allow the charges themselves to destroy him and his family.
Why do we use our time to raise this issue in a personal injury blog? Because we believe it is the right thing to do. Far too many people are going to assume that because there was an allegation that it must be true. This assumption leads to labels that can destroy the innocent just as quickly as they punish the guilty, and it is not right.
We hope justice is done, whatever that is. For the guilty, justice should be to done to help support the victim and deter future conduct for the protection of other innocent children. We are all left to trust the criminal justice system to make sure that happens. If justice in this case is that there was no such wrongful act and that the allegation is without merit, we must all do our part to avoid rumors and labels regarding Rabbi Bryan Bramley that would destroy the man and his family even if he were actually nothing more than the victim of a false allegation.
I do not know what occurred, but I hope justice is done and will not take part in punishing someone who may later be found to have done nothing wrong. All of us should join in this commitment.