When I was nineteen I told one of my aunts about my memories of my father molesting me. I had always been close with her and desperately needed family support. I had not gotten any so far. Her reaction was not concern, empathy, or the offer of support I had hoped for. She had but one important question on her mind:
"Can you marry a kohen?"
I really didn't know the answer to that and it worried me because I was dating at the time. My parents knew I had issues but were desperately trying to find me a shidduch. My father told me that he believed that marriage would solve all my problems.
Rabbi Heinemann is a friend of my father. My father davened in his shul for many years. My father taught his boys and helped one of them through some challenges. Rabbi Heinemann was my brothers mohel. He had been to every simcha in my family and knew my grandfather from his years in the Lakewood Yeshiva.
I called Rabbi Heinemann.
"If I was raped by my father can I marry a kohen?"
Then the Rabbi asked, "Was it before or after age three."
More silence. Then a verdict:
"If you say it happened, then no, you can not marry a kohen. But if you say it didn't happen, then yes, you can marry a kohen."
That was the end of the only conversation I ever had with Rabbi Heinemann about this or anything else.
He did not ask me any further questions.
He did not express any concern.
I could have been asking him if my flaishig fork that I accidentally used in the milchig bowl needed to be kashered.
The fact that a young woman with a terribly painful question was crying out to him, reaching out to him for help at the other end of the phone, a real person with feelings, from a family he knows...didn't register at all in his reaction.
A few years ago a friend here in Israel, and former Baltimorian, told me about an encounter he had with a visitor in Shul. The visitor was a friend of his from Baltimore and somehow the topic of my father came up.
My friend asked the visitor what was going on with the case.
The man replied,
"Everyone knows the daughter is not credible. Rabbi Heinemann says she's crazy and not frum."
My husband happened to be davening a few chairs away and my friend pointed him out.
"That's her husband right there. Our boys are in the same class in school."
The color drained from the man's face and he sat down hard. his mouth fell open and stayed that way for a full two minutes.
"I don't understand." He finally mumbled. "Why would they say that?"