Monday, July 8, 2013
A lawyer for 19 former students at Yeshiva University High School for Boys has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that two former rabbis there carried out hundreds of acts of sexual abuse during the 1970s and 80s, and that the university’s leaders covered it up
According to a 148-page complaint lodged in Federal District Court in White Plains, the abuse included one case, in 1980, of a rabbi who sodomized a 16-year-old student with a toothbrush in his dormitory room in Upper Manhattan. Another boy claims a different rabbi abused him at least 30 times, in his office and the school’s halls, between 1978 and 1982, the lawsuit says. The lawyer, Kevin T. Mulhearn, said that the depth of the abuse, which the plaintiffs claim occurred between 1969 and 1989, did not come to light until recently. The lawsuit said that administrators of Yeshiva University, which runs the high school, brushed off complaints about the two rabbis for years, and after they left the school, the university did not notify their future employers about the complaints. One of the men, Rabbi George Finkelstein, went on to work at a Jewish day school near Miami for several years. “Their abuse should have been avoided with a bare minimum of responsibility and compassion for the children in their charge,” Mulhearn said. The lawsuit contains complaints from 16 former students who say that they were abused by Rabbi Finkelstein, an administrator who became principal in the late 1980s before the school, responding to complaints, asked him to leave in 1995. The lawsuit says that Rabbi Finkelstein rubbed his genitals against students, either in an office at the school, at a dormitory or in his apartment, sometimes under the guise of wrestling. He also groped boys’ genitals while checking to see if they were wearing tzitzis, traditional fringes under the outer clothing, the suit says. The three other complaints, including the one claiming sodomy, are against Rabbi Macy Gordon, who taught Judaic Studies and left in 1984. The lawsuit also said that Yeshiva allowed a former student with a reputation for improper behavior to enter the high school dorm rooms, where he fondled students. Each of them is seeking $20 million in damages, for a total of $380 million.