Robert Shapiro, the esteemed longtime cantor of Temple Beth Am, a Conservative synagogue in
Randolph, Mass., was accused of repeatedly molesting a mentally challenged congregant, a woman
in her late 20s and early 30s when the incidents allegedly occurred between 2001 and 2003. When the news broke in early February 2003, Beth Am was within days of again renewing the then-70-year-old Shapiro's contract. Once the shock of the disclosure wore off, Beth Am leaders regrouped and tried to figure out how to manage the situation. That involved not only ensuring that criminal, civil and moral justice would prevail, but also preventing the congregation from disintegrating. In-house guidelines were nonexistent. And attempts to find advice from officials at the Conservative movement's headquarters were unsuccessful.