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Ask the rabbi Torah and Jewish Thought Lashon Hara

Question re Lashon Hora

Rabbi David SperlingShevat 14, 5781
15
Question
Is it permissible to discuss details of a well publicized case of a child abuser who is on trial? There is alot of credible evidence against the perpetrator. The case has been widely covered by the media. Furthermore, there is a possibility that such discussion can provide support and hope to victims of similar crime. Thank you for taking the time to respond.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The laws of Lashon HaRah are important, and it’s wonderful to see you taking the effort to clarify them before you speak. Issues that are well known (for example things already published in the paper) are considered as already spread in the community, and the laws of Lashon HaRah are more lenient in relation to them (see Chafezt Haim 2, 3). Even in such a case, though, one is not allowed to talk about the person in question with malicious intent. However, if your intent is to “provide support and hope to victims of similar crime”, or other similar positive reasons, then it is allowed. If the person has not yet been convicted, you should mention that when talking about the person – “of course we don’t know all the details yet”, “based on what was reported” etc. Blessings.
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