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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘sex abuse’

Report: YU Hired Faculty Member Convicted Of Sex Contact with Boys

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Yeshiva University hired a new faculty member convicted of inappropriate sexual behavior with boys, according to the Forward.

The university, which is facing a major lawsuit concerning its handling of allegations of sexual abuse over several decades, has hired Akiva Roth, who pleaded guilty in 1997 to four counts of lewdness against several boys he tutored. Roth, 42, began teaching Hebrew at the college this fall.

In response to questions from the Forward, a university spokesman issued a statement saying it “has policies and procedures in place that require background checks for new hires” and is “currently in the process of thoroughly exploring the matter you brought to our attention.”

After pleading guilty, Roth was sentenced to 10 years of probation.

Australian Yeshiva Teacher Gets Prison for Sex Abuse

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

David Kramer, a former teacher at the Yeshivah College day school in Melbourne, was sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting four students.

Kramer was sentenced Wednesday to three years, four months, but could be released in slightly more than three months because of time served, according to the Australian The Age.

Following the sentencing, abuse survivor and advocate Manny Waks said the sentence was “a little bit lower than we anticipated, but justice has been served,” The Age reported.

Kramer was convicted of sex abuse in the United States, but was extradited last year to Australia to stand trial for the Yeshivah College accusations.

The abuse in Australia occurred between 1989 and 1992. Kramer’s victims were 10 or 11 years old.

According to The Age, Yeshivah College principal Yehoshua Smukler issued an apology after the sentencing for the school’s failure to inform police of the abuse allegations when they came to light.

The school “sincerely regrets and unreservedly apologizes for not informing the police at the time the allegations arose,” the statement read. “If any allegations were to arise today, they would be immediately reported to the police and the relevant authorities.”

Rabbinical Council of America Issues Guidelines on Sexual Abuse

Monday, July 15th, 2013

The Rabbinical Council of America, the main professional association for Modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States, — has put out a statement calling “upon all synagogues and schools to adopt policies geared towards preventing sexual abuse.”

Among the recommendations are training staff to prevent sexual abuse; using sex registries to warn communities when a convicted sex offender moves to town; running background checks on all employees; not allowing an adult and child to be alone together; and clarifying what kind of physical contact is unacceptable.

The RCA’s resolution on the guidelines acknowledged that “the Orthodox community has experienced cases of sexual abuse committed by rabbis, counselors, leaders, and other Jewish professionals [and that] such abuse causes immeasurable harm to the victims and can destroy lives.”

The organization of rabbis urged that current staff members as well as new employees undergo periodic retraining on preventing sexual abuse.

Concerning a sex registry it noted, “The entire community need not know about this person’s history, but the rabbi or principal and some professionals will be aware and will monitor the person’s compliance with specially instituted safeguards.”

When there is a need for a private conversation, the RCA suggested that it take place in a situation where others can easily see what is happening.

It added that physical contact between an adult and a child could state that “high fives” or  a pat on the shoulder are acceptable but that “wrestling, kissing, or sitting on laps are not.“

The Rabbinical Council warned that safety for children should be promoted but that there should not be an atmosphere in which “any adult who smiles at a child is immediately accused of sexual abuse.”

Former Yeshiva University Students file $380 Million Lawsuit

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Former Yeshiva University students have filed a $380 million lawsuit against the institution, alleging that the university covered up allegations of sexual misconduct by staff members.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in White Plains, N.Y., alleges a “massive cover-up of the sexual abuse of [high school] students … facilitated, for several decades, by various prominent Y.U. and [high school] administrators, trustees, directors, and other faculty members,” the Forward reported.

The newspaper first published details of the claims against two former Yeshiva University staff members late last year. Rabbis George Finkelstein and Macy Gordon were accused of inappropriate contact with several students at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan.

Finkelstein left the high school in 1995 and took a post at a Jewish school in Florida before moving to Israel. Gordon also lives in Israel and until recently was a teacher at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center. Both men deny the charges.

The lawsuit, filed by 19 former students, names Rabbi Norman Lamm, the university’s former president and chancellor who stepped down last week, and Rabbi Robert Hirt, a former vice president of Y.U.’s rabbinical seminary. Only two of the alleged victims — Mordechai Twersky, who lives in Israel, and Barry Singer of New York — are named. The rest are listed anonymously.

The complainants’ attorney, Kevin Mulhearn, claims that university administrators are guilty of fraud for portraying Gordon and Finkelstein as men of good character despite the many warnings they had sexually abused young boys.

Norman Lamm Quits Yeshiva University

Monday, July 1st, 2013

In a letter announcing he is stepping down as Yeshiva University’s chancellor and rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Norman Lamm acknowledged his failure to respond adequately to allegations of sexual abuse against the university’s rabbis in the 1980s.

Lamm, now 85, became the school’s third president and head of its rabbinic school, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, in 1976. He stepped down as president in 2003, becoming chancellor, but stayed on as RIETS’s head.

His resignation Monday from his two posts at the school were attributed to an agreement reached three years ago and come several months after a report in the Forward newspaper that detailed allegations of abuse dating back to the 1970s and ‘80s against two rabbis at Y.U.’s high school for boys, principal George Finkelstein and Talmud teacher Macy Gordon.

“Rabbi Lamm’s decision to retire is based on an agreement that was reached three years ago,” the university said in a statement. “His contract expired June 30.”

Last December, Lamm acknowledged to the Forward that he knew about some of the allegations but chose to deal with them privately; law enforcement authorities were never informed.

“My question was not whether to report to police but to ask the person to leave the job,” Lamm said.

On Monday, Lamm issued a mea culpa for failing to pursue the allegations.

“At the time that inappropriate actions by individuals at Yeshiva were brought to my attention, I acted in a way that I thought was correct, but which now seems ill-conceived,” Lamm wrote in a letter emailed to faculty, students and alumni in which he discussed his retirement. “And when that happens — one must do tshuvah. So, I too must do tshuvah [repentance].

“We must never be so committed to justifying our past that we thereby threaten to destroy our future. It is not an easy task. On the contrary, it is one of the greatest trials of all, for it means sacrificing our very egos, our reputations, even our identities,” he wrote. “But we can and must do it. I must do it, and having done so, contribute to the creation of a future that is safer for innocents, and more ethically and halakhically correct.

“True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong,” Lamm wrote. “This is what I am modeh [acknowledge] as I reflect on my tenure.”

Finkelstein was forced out of the school in 1995 after being accused of inappropriate contact with students by wrestling with them. He then went to work as a dean at the Hillel Community Day School in North Miami Beach, Fla.

Gordon was placed on a leave of absence in 1984, according to the Forward. Both of the rabbis now live in Israel.

Lamm’s comments about the sexual abuse allegations represented four paragraphs of a six-page resignation letter that otherwise was a reflection on his tenure at Y.U. Lamm also made an oblique reference to his failing health, noting, “Conditions have caused me to rely on help from my family in writing this letter.”

Richard Joel, the president of Y.U., declined to discuss Lamm’s remarks on the sexual allegations or be interviewed for this story. He released a statement to JTA through a spokesman.

“I would like to express my appreciation to Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm for his half-century of service to Yeshiva University. During his tenure he helped guide the University with steadfastness and vision,” Joel said in the statement. “Dr. Lamm’s contributions to the Jewish world as a distinguished rabbi, philosopher and scholar are unparalleled.”

In its report last fall, the Forward cited three former students who said Finkelstein invited students into his home or office to wrestle with them, that they could feel his erect penis against them during the tussling, and that Finkelstein told the students he loved them and tried to kiss some of them. Everybody at the school knew of Finkelstein’s penchant for wrestling with boys, the former students said.

Finkelstein denied to the Forward that there was anything sexual about his contact with students, though he said the wrestling, in retrospect, was wrong.

Gordon was accused of sodomizing a former student with a toothbrush when the student was 16. The former student and his father both told the Forward that they reported the incident to Y.U.’s leadership but did not report it to the police because they did not want to damage the school’s reputation or further harm the boy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/norman-lamm-quits-yeshiva-univ-admits-failure-on-sex-abuse/2013/07/01/

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