Thursday, December 13, 2012

Forward investigated alleged abuse by Y.U. staff

Forward    A Forward investigation into allegations that two staff members at Yeshiva University High School for Boys’ Manhattan campus sexually abused students during the late 1970s and early ’80s has led to a startling admission by the university’s chancellor: The school dealt with allegations of “improper sexual activity” against staff members by quietly allowing them to leave and find jobs elsewhere.

For years, former students have asked Y.U., the premier educational institution of Modern Orthodox Judaism, to investigate their claims that a former principal had repeatedly abused students in the all-male high school that is part of the university. Another former high school student said Y.U. covered up for a staff member who sodomized him.

Y.U. President Richard Joel said in a statement issued on December 3 that the school was “looking with concern into the questions” the Forward had raised.

But Norman Lamm, who was president of Y.U. from 1976 to 2003 and is now chancellor, indicated in an interview December 7 that he knew about some of the allegations and chose to deal with them privately. In one case, a suspected abuser of high school students was allowed to leave for a position as dean of a Florida school.

No law enforcement officials were ever notified, despite “charges of improper sexual activity” made against staff “not only at [Y.U.’s] high school and college, but also in [the] graduate school,” Lamm said. “If it was an open-and-shut case, I just let [the staff member] go quietly. It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry.”

Asked whether in the case of staff assaulting minors the abuse should have been reported to police, Lamm said. “My question was not whether to report to police but to ask the person to leave the job.” [...]

Yeshiva University President Richard Joel has issued a statement of apology in response to a Forward story describing how Y.U. failed to report claims of child abuse made against staff members during the 1970s and ‘80s. Joel’s statement, released this morning, offered victims who were allegedly abused by members of YU’s faculty and administration “my deepest, most profound apology.”
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Yeshiva University President Richard Joel has issued a statement of apology in response to a Forward story describing how Y.U. failed to report claims of child abuse made against staff members during the 1970s and ‘80s. Joel’s statement, released this morning, offered victims who were allegedly abused by members of YU’s faculty and administration “my deepest, most profound apology.”

15 comments :

  1. Recipients and PublicityDecember 14, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    It is ironic of course that YU president's Richard Joel's claim to fame is that he was the designated attorney who led the investigation of the OU's NCSY and published the report that led to the downfall of NCSY rabbi Baruch Lanner for sexual abuse and physical harassment of youngsters under his control over many years that in turn resulted in the domino effect of the resignations of top OU and NCSY Rabbis Raphael Butler, David Kaminetsky and Pinchas Stolper from the OU for having covered up for him for so long. rabbi Baruch Taub was also at the scenes of these abuses, but he had long ago quit to take up the post of rabbi at the BAYT shull in Toronto where hanky-panky allegations followed him. He is now retired in Israel.

    Good luck with this one Richard. The pot must now call the kettle black.

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    1. There are numerous errors with your comment:

      1. Gary Rosenblatt led to the downfall of Lanner. Richard Joel's report was nothing more than an expansion and confirmation of the original article.

      2. Richard Joel's "claim to fame" has nothing to do with the OU report. He gained fame well before that report for his work at Hillel, especially his fundraising ability.

      3. I dont see any irony here. If anything, Richard Joel is the perfect person to respond to these charges and, so far, I think he has done a good job. He has responded publicly and forcefully.

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    2. Recipients and PublicityDecember 16, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      "James said...There are numerous errors with your comment:

      1. Gary Rosenblatt led to the downfall of Lanner. Richard Joel's report was nothing more than an expansion and confirmation of the original article."

      RaP: Wrong! Lanner was the cause of his own downfall. Rosenblatt published stories, that turned out to be true. Maybe it's that kind of journalism you don't like, if so buy the Yated and Hamodia, they never publish any scandals, they just like to poke fun at Obama. Lanner committed the violations of sexual impropriety and hurting kids, kicking boys in the groin, getting too close physically to hormonal teen girls, over many years. In the end it was a SY (Syrian)-Jewish teen at the school where he was principal in Deal NJ, who complained that he had brushed against her breasts and she pressed charges. So it was that kid who brought him down. In addition, if you will read my comment above that not only did Joel's report involve Lanner, but it uncovered the vast cover-up over decades that had been given to Lanner by the OU-NCSY higher ups, Stolper, Taub, Butler, Kamainetsky etc who admired his ability to charismatically "mekarev" kids while at the same time over-looking his shenanigans and flirtations and even violence with the kids under his spell. Richard Joel in his report, uncovered that entire tangled web and its lead actors, and they all had to quit as a result.

      "2. Richard Joel's "claim to fame" has nothing to do with the OU report. He gained fame well before that report for his work at Hillel, especially his fundraising ability."

      RaP: Indeed Joel had a big career long (lawyer, DA work, Cardoza School of Law lecturer, Hillel director, whatnot) before he took over as the compromise candidate as YU's CEO (the first time a YU president was NOT also its main Rosh Yeshiva, leaving that post for Norman Lamm who got a new title as "chancellor" and still remains as YU's official main Rosh HaYeshiva.) But nevertheless, Joel became famous and earned a whole new type of aura as someone with "clean-hands" who had issued the lengthy report that led to the most sweeping house cleaning at the OU in its entire history, in fact just at a time when the OU was cashing in big time from a unique survey about the well-deserved successes of NCSY, but Joel's report drowned out any positive PR and results and big money that the OU could have gotten from the NCSY success report from that survey.

      "3. I dont see any irony here. If anything, Richard Joel is the perfect person to respond to these charges and, so far, I think he has done a good job. He has responded publicly and forcefully."

      RaP: What? It is VERY ironic that the very man who was called in as "Mr. Clean" and "Lilly-white" is now shown to have been sitting and squelching his own institution's scandal/s, because he surely must have known about this issue a long, long time ago. It's hard to believe he doesn't know what's been happening at YU and its affiliates when it's his business to know everything about them -- you know, after all he's a lawyer, he's smart, he's on the ball, he raises hundreds of millions every year for YU etc -- And in any case, now he is the captain (ahem, "CEO") of YU and not the outsider investigating, and as the captain he must take responsibility.

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    3. RaP:

      1. Of course Lanner is responsible for his own actions. You first claimed that Joel's report led to his downfall. I responded that Rosenblatt's investigation was far more responsible for exposing his sins than Joel.

      2. Joel was picked to lead the investigation because of his excellent reputation (resume). I guess we can never know whether he would have gotten the job of CEO without the investigation but I am inclined to think he would have.

      3. I could be wrong, but I though that the accused left YU way before Joel took over. If that is true, there is no reason to believe he had any knowledge of the accusations.

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    4. Recipients and PublicityDecember 17, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      "James said...

      1. Of course Lanner is responsible for his own actions. You first claimed that Joel's report led to his downfall. I responded that Rosenblatt's investigation was far more responsible for exposing his sins than Joel."

      RaP: Read my comments again, I stated that Joel's report had a chain effect of that went beyond just Lanner, it also uncovered a culture of tolerance for Lanner at the highest echelons of the OU's and NCSY's executive leadership over decades, spanning from the times of Rabbis Stolper, Taub, Butler, Kaminetsky (son of the famous Dr. Joe Kaminetsky the original director of Torah Umesorah) and they all had to quit (except Taub, he was in Toronto by then). So I was talking about the domino effect and the over-all scenario that Joel's report inevitably unleashed and it all revolved around and sprung from the serious allegations of sexual and physical abuse against Lanner.

      "2. Joel was picked to lead the investigation because of his excellent reputation (resume). I guess we can never know whether he would have gotten the job of CEO without the investigation but I am inclined to think he would have."

      RaP: read my response again, that's not focused on a mechanical result from one or two or more of Joel's prior achievements before he took over as CEO of YU, but rather, the point is Joel came in to YU with an "aura" of being "Mr. Clean" as regards allegations of sexual abuse, and now he has to face revelations of the same in his active capacity of the insider of MO's flagship institution being CEO of YU and NOT, as was the case when he investigated the OU and NCSY, as the reliable outsider from the MO world.

      "3. I could be wrong, but I though that the accused left YU way before Joel took over. If that is true, there is no reason to believe he had any knowledge of the accusations."

      RaP: Again you seem to be deliberately missing the point. Obviously these events took place way before Joel ever dreamed he would become the CEO of anything let alone YU (after all he was a lawyer and fundraiser, he's not even an academic with a PhD like his predecessors, and the title CEO was only concocted for him since he is not the lamden-Torah scholar to lead YU as all past Presidents were: -- Rabbis and Drs. Revel, Belkin, Lamm -- who traditionally were also the Rosh Hayeshiva of YU. Joel's the first pure laymen has been at the pinnacle of YU's leadership. ) So again, to repeat that the alleged events happened on his watch as CEO and President of YU, it is that now IRONICALLY, after he had led an investigation into what had happened at the the OU and NCSY in the past, he is now faced with having to deal with what had happened at a YU affiliate school in the past, and it surely cannot be that he only found out about this from an article in the Forward a few days ago because as the supreme leader of YU and sitting on its vast files and history he must surely have known and had foreknowledge about this hot potato subject. Only an independent inquiry by an outsider could actually get to the bottom of all this, and answer those famous questions of "what did he and others know and when did he others know it, and most importantly what did they do about it and why?"

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  2. Ha! Well ,YU had to take the lead with their Mashgiach Ruchanie,moderating the first gay forum there .I am not a navi but Rabbi Miller (TZ"L) would say that if a misfortune (G-d Forbid) takes places we have to search for the reasons why.The rabbi in question in the eyes of many (about the gay thing) was giving tacit approval to them.Rabbi Meyer Twersky,SHLIT"A spoke out against this .Good luck YU.Your institution humiliated us with your forum and now it is your turn.

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    1. Recipients and PublicityDecember 16, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      "NOSHIE63 said...Ha! Well ,YU had to take the lead with their Mashgiach Ruchanie,moderating the first gay forum there .I am not a navi but Rabbi Miller (TZ"L) would say that if a misfortune (G-d Forbid) takes places we have to search for the reasons why.The rabbi in question in the eyes of many (about the gay thing) was giving tacit approval to them.Rabbi Meyer Twersky,SHLIT"A spoke out against this .Good luck YU.Your institution humiliated us with your forum and now it is your turn."

      RaP: Get this, and it's nothing to gloat about, the Modern Orthodox in general do NOT take the parsha of arayos very seriously -- in an open way. While most Chasidim and Charedim officially preach "frumkeit" but there is plenty of "shmutz" that goes on under the table. The disgraced on the run ex rabbi Gershon Kranczer was a leading disciple of Rav Avigdor Miller z"l (Rav Miller got his semicha from YU by the way, in the olden days) yet Kranczer was revealed to be massive menuval who not only practiced incest with his own daughters but also inducted and forced his sons into this abominable kind of behavior.

      So don't preach about Rav Miller, he was always trying fight the meshigasin among his own congregants. Same goes for all the unmasked Charedi sex-predators, like Mondrowitz, Kolko, Tropper, Weberman and many, many others. But Charedi Judaism does not approve this behavior it COVERS UP FOR IT!

      UNLIKE MODERN ORTHODOX JUDAISM, that has actually developed doctrines of co-existing with modern sexual liberation, be it sexual equality, coeducation on all levels, mixed dancing, a looser dress code, acceptance of homosexuality, they TURN A BLIND EYE to it and in fact their schools and teachers and ESPECIALLY the parent bodies WANT it for their children. They want girls and boys in mixed classrooms, they want boys and girls to have mixed parties, they want the boys and girls to dance together, smooch together and even accept that many will sleep together. The proof is just look at what goes on in almost all Modern Orthodox day schools. Almost all their alumni goes to secular colleges and sleep in co-ed dorms many stop being Orthodox and its accepted. Many MOs don't even bother sending their kids to their own Jewish-Hebrew day schools, they argue it's "too expensive" but they will spare no expenses sending them to the fanciest far-away colleges.

      YU has become nothing, it is just a tiny drop of the frummest MO people, it trains some MO rabbis, in fact the trend is for kids to go to the YU ultra-leftist break-off YCT (Yeshiva Chovevei Torah) of Avi Weiss if they want to become rabbis. YU is a place to get a degree, meet others to marry, while the vast majority of MOs are living in the same world that secular liberal all-American people are. Today's MOs are like the old Conservatives. While today's Conservatives are like the Reform, and today's Reform is like Hebrew Christians while the Hebrew Christians really take the Bible seriously, only one problem they believe in Yoshke, so it's a hurly-burly world. It's sad, but true.

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    2. This is so true!I agree 200% but there is one way to be melamed zchus.The schools are one gender.When a boy is ready for shidduchim it is difficult if you are not connected.My son is a little boy and we go to an MO shul.He plays with little girls.We hope this will last for the time of shidduchim so it would be easier on him than it was on us.The description of MO is very on target.

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    3. Recipients and PublicityDecember 17, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      "NOSHIE63 said...This is so true!I agree 200%"

      RaP: Thank you!

      "but there is one way to be melamed zchus."

      RaP: Hmm, you can be "melamed zchus" on anything anytime. That is not the point. The question in this post is that now, sexual predators have been unmasked, albeit from the past, at a YU affiliated institution and it is having serious results in America and Israel, even now as we debate, people are being forced to resign from major institutions in Israel and there is pressure on the MO leadership and the MO flagship institution YU to come clean and fess up and see to it that there are safeguards in the future. There was a similar crisis that involved YU a few years ago when allegations of abuse were leveled, yet again, at controversial rabbi Matis Weinberg, son of the late rav Yaakov Weinberg of Baltimore. Matis Weinberg was teaching at a MO type institution in Israel that had boys from many MO homes in America studying in Israel. The yeshiva in Israel had official relations with YU as a sanctioned school for MO boys to attend, and because of the revelations of the abuse by Matis Weinberg, the YU leadership was forced to bar Matis Weinberg from teaching at the MO institution in Israel and to come up with an explanation why it had not known about these goings on especially in light of the fact that Matis Weinberg was barred by a din Torah from ever having an official position in ANY yeshiva after he was accused of wrongdoings in the past in his capacity of the Kerem yeshiva in Santa Clara near San Francisco in California. Since that time Matis Weinberg keeps a very low profile although he does have some role in his uncle's (Noach Weinberg's) Aish HaTorah yeshiva and he travels the world lecturing to private audiences getting around the official ban that was put on him by both a bais din of Aguda type rabbis (Rav Feivel Cohen and Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky were on the bais din) as well as by YU's official leadership. And here again in this case of the new YU revelations, various prominent rabbis and individuals are being sacked and kicked out and black-listed because they are being accused of sexually inappropriate misdeeds against students.

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    4. Recipients and PublicityDecember 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      "NOSHIE63 said...The schools are one gender.When a boy is ready for shidduchim it is difficult if you are not connected.My son is a little boy and we go to an MO shul.He plays with little girls.We hope this will last for the time of shidduchim so it would be easier on him than it was on us.The description of MO is very on target."

      RaP: This last statement by you shows is bizarre! It just how confused your life's situation really is and how illogical and irrational and outright wrong you are. It reveals false and mistaken thinking.

      For someone who supposedly has consulted major rabbonim about whether it is permissible to summarily kill people in the streets for being "informers" and who claims to worry day and night if it's ok for a frum Jew to talk to a secular reporter, you have obviously not gone to any good rabbis to sort out your own serious problems with how to raise your children to be good Torah Jews!

      Are you saying that you do not send your son to a decent yeshiva because it is "one gender"?

      But that is what a classical yeshiva is -- it's for boys only, since for girls there are Bais Yaakov schools. What planet are you on? Just what EXACTLY are you saying? You often utter contradictions against yourself and think that it's not picked up by readers!

      The last part of what you say is so confused and confusing, namely: "My son is a little boy and we go to an MO shul.He plays with little girls.We hope this will last for the time of shidduchim so it would be easier on him than it was on us." -- Just what does all this mean? you sound so confused.

      Is there only one shull in your neighborhood? Couldn't you find a frummer shull to belong to? after all you like the style of Rav Avigdor Miller and quote him, so go to a shull that is more Charedi, no? You say your son "plays with little girls" -- well okay, exactly how old is your son? toddlers play games with each other, even kids up till nursery and kindergarten and maybe even pre1A, but from about 1st grade (kita alef) on boys are in class with other boys only in ALL Torah schools and they start playing with mostly other boys, maybe at home they play games with sisters.

      If your son is closer to bar mitzva age and is "playing" with girls then watch out! Find out what games he is playing with them hopefully it's not "spin the bottle"! Finally, how will having doubts about traditional yeshiva education, attending an MO shull and playing with girls help your son's future "shidduchim" of all things???

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  3. Look, the MO community is still way ahead of the charedi community in being straight forward about abuse. I write this as a more yeshivish person. There is a potential danger in the right wing now easing it's conscious with "they're no better". We need to grow as a tzibbur, all parts of the Orthodox community.


    Michoel

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  4. Will YU do the right thing and fire Lamm for failing to report these heinous crimes against children to the authorities and rather allowing these molesters to take new jobs in other schools?

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  5. No way.He is one of the "good ole boys".

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  6. MY SOURCE TELLS ME MR. ANONYMOUS GRADUATED EINSTEIN. MEDICAL SCHOOL OF YESHIA UNIVERSITY SEEMS LIKE HE OWES Y.U. HIS CAREER. YESHIVA UNIVERSITY is the school where I spent most of of academic life. Do not lecture me on what I owe or do not. For your information, RIETS and .J.S.S. made be who I am. I will fight for the school that produced rabbis that cared for me and nutured me. It is not my fault that parents who knew of these acts did nothing including showing up in mass to punish the individual who did malice to their child. Do not lecture me on sexual violence. Where were the parents who knew. ? Stop whining and trying to destroy Yeshiva University and have Rabbi Lamm resign. He did what was proper at the time. Prove that Rabbi GORDON molested anyone. The story about the toothbrush is ludicrous. I have had my own issues with the R..C.A. AND Y.U. , but I did not wake up 35 years later to realize I was molested. Go to ISRAEL AND CONFRONT these abusers , they are still alive. I call upon current students and alumni to speak up on behalf of their school. I FOR ONE HAVE HEARD ENOUGH UNPROVEN ALLEGATIONS THAT HAVE RUINED TWO LIVES. DO NOR RESPOUND SHAME ON YOU OR I DO NOT UNDERSTAND SEX ABUSE. I understand if this happened to my child and I knew of it I WOULD HAVE CALLED FRIENDS and made sure the culprit never did this to any child again. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

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  7. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard RosenbergAugust 8, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    I have come full circle regarding the students who were abused at YU. At first, I blamed the parents for not going to the school authorities when it occurred. Then I asked why no one went to the police.My initial reaction as a long time teacher at YU as well as a student for a good part of my life was to circle the wagons. I was wrong and admit this before the High Holidays. I have come to the conclusion that it is the YU administration which constantly protects themselves. There are a number of dinosaurs who have been at YU forever who are responsible for allowing some of these students to be abused when information was known regarding the abusers. They are still at YU and some serve on the board of directors. All the excuses regarding Rabbi Finkelstein are absurd. He should never have been allowed to obtain employment at other schools or in Israel after YU. I have proof that students with disabilities are not treated fairly and teachers do not appreciate nor make the effort to understand the severity of their disabilities. YU is supposed to be a private school where Jewish students are treated with Jewish moral laws and compassion. This is not happening. In addition there is favoritism towards children of the big "machers" who can get by with anything. This is cruel. This favoritism holds true throughout YU. As one who has always shown loyalty to YU, raised over 1.5 million dollars for YU, as well as taught there for at least ten years since 1972 I am appalled and I am speaking out on behalf of these students.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

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