Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seminary Scandal: Rav Feurst and S. Gottesman are behind the RICO Claim - A psak was issued to parents to join the RICO claim!

A friend of mine - who is a well respected talmid chachom who is known world-wide and has direct connection to major figures in this scandal -  wrote me the following:

According to a communication sent by a parent from Chicago, parents of the 25 girls from Chicago who registered their children in the various Meisels seminaries - and withdrew their registration upon the recommendation of the local BD - were called to a meeting by Rav Feurst, also attended by Reb Shlomo Gottesman. The parents were told what was referred to as a "Psak Din"; they should sue the seminaries in secular court, in order to get back their deposits. A draft of a lawsuit (now the RICO claim), which I understand was prepared by Rav Feurst and S. Gottesman, was presented to them. In it, instead of focusing on the deposits, Meisels and the seminaries are viciously attacked for misrepresenting Jewish education.

19 of the parents opted to lose their deposits rather than resort to such tactics. Six of them took up the offer. Despite the vicious charges, none of the six ever had any children in any of the seminaries, and thus never "suffered" in any way from them other than losing their deposits for this year. This can easily be confirmed by anyone who knows any of the 25 families from Chicago who cancelled their registration.

I am uneasy with this. If Rav Feurst sees it Halachically necessary to return the deposits, he can either arrange a Beis Din that will deal with the monetary issue, or at worst give the parents a Heter Arka'os to deal with it in secular courts (if they have a case at all). If he instead feels the seminaries are so unsafe that they should be dismantled, why involve the parents from Chicago who recanted their registration, instead of having the claimants who testified before them against Meisels bring the case to the courts (if it is impossible to find a responsible Beis Din capable of dealing with it)?

It seems to have become, at a certain point, a holy mission of CBD to bury the seminaries by hook or by crook. Is this reconcilable l'Halachah? After all, it was not in the jurisdiction of CBD to produce a Halachic Psak Din (according to the CBD's letter of July 10), and it was in the jurisdiction of the well-respected Dayanim, with experience in harassment cases, whom CBD chose to deal with it.

31 comments :

  1. The silver lining in all this to is

    19 of the parents opted to lose their deposits rather than resort to such tactics.



    This is beautiful! They will be richly rewarded by Hashem.

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  2. Didn't the CBD give heter arkaot for a criminal (vs civil) case?

    Possible witness tampering for a criminal case.

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  3. All your suggestions might be nice in theory... but practically maybe the seminaries are not playing nice with the cbd so it has no choice. As to whether it is muttar to sue in secular court I would once again remind you that you do not know all the facts so how can you pasken?

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  4. Try as I might I continue to find that I cannot myself evaluate the actors in the Seminaries Affair without specific, concrete and contextualized information about the malfeasance, both admitted and alleged. For many good reasons I cannot possibly be privy to this information.

    That said, I think it's of SOME relevance to consider what constitutes a "pure" (qua *US* law) civil RICO claim. See the discussion by the Sup. Ct. in Agency Holding in the vicinity of 151: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16561326211012167071 (it's the discussion of the RICO statute's intent which speaks of "bring[ing] to bear the pressure of 'private attorneys general' on a serious national problem for which public prosecutorial resources are deemed inadequate").

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  5. time is getting closer to sue gottesman and probably fuerst. a very clear attempt to destroy the seminaries..... and what is looking more and like an attempt to open a competing seminary.

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  6. "19 of the parents opted to lose their deposits rather than resort to such tactics"

    They might not lose the depostis. They can go to beis din and try to retrieve them.

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  7. Does anyone know why the names of the plaintiffs - the six parents and anyone else - is redacted from the RICO suit that is in the public? Normally lawsuits are publicly available - including who the plaintiffs are.


    http://www.scribd.com/doc/236210001/Meisels-RICO-Claim-August-4-2014?secret_password=nXDclTUD6c3YOJeIxKoM

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  8. The main reason why they filed a RICO suit with crazy untrue allegations is because the truth of what occurred with Meisels and the girls is not illegal under criminal law.

    1) The girls are all adults over 18 years old. Unless it was outright rape, which I've seen no one allege, whatever happened was consensual between two adults. Even student / teacher sexual relationships in college with students over 18 years old is NOT illegal according to the law. It is surely against college policy and will result in the teacher being fired. But that is a private matter. There is no criminal issue. Same here with Meisels.

    2) It all occurred with Meisels and the students in the State of Israel outside of the U.S. Therefore it is outside of U.S. jurisdiction and it is based on Israeli jurisdiction. The U.S. couldn't prosecute even if were an actual rape case. (Which it is not anyways.) It would have had to be prosecuted by Israeli criminal justice. But as in point 1 above, there is no criminal case here. Especially as in Israel the law is much more tolerant of questionable sexual activities between adults; often something the U.S. law would consider involuntary, Israeli law is more liberal and would consider it voluntary between two adults. Andthat's the case legally even though it is a teacher/student situation where the teacher/mentor causes the girl to feel pressured. Same as with a rabbi or priest sexual relationship with an adult congregant or member. There is undue influence since the priest or teacher is a rank above the congregant or student, but it isn't a criminal law violation. And Israeli laws and secular culture on adult student relationships with teachers is much more liberal and tolerant than the U.S.

    And if it is all consensual, while it is a horrible violation of halacha (by both the male and female parties if it was consensual), then it isn't even a winnable civil lawsuit. It'll boil down to something consensual occurring between two adults over 18. Secular law doesn't find these type of relationships so terrible. Otherwise half the population in the U.S. would be in jail. It would be a press scandal (i.e. Clinton/Lewinsky or a married Congressman with an adult intern) but not a crime.

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  9. but practically maybe the seminaries are not playing nice with the cbd

    Fact: The CBD is not playing "nice" with the IBD (Actually, a lot worse than that!)

    Is this some kids game? You're not playing"nice" with me so I may do anything to you? What are we - some high school bullies?

    you do not know all the facts



    LOL. So why didn't you give Rabbi Eidensohn the facts? The CBD had no problem leaking all sorts of stuff to the bloggers. Now they're all of a sudden tight-lipped?


    Please don't defend the indefensible.

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  10. English, please. Thank you.

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  11. "And if it is all consensual, while it is a horrible violation of halacha
    (by both the male and female parties if it was consensual), then it
    isn't even a winnable civil lawsuit. It'll boil down to something
    consensual occurring between two adults over 18."

    I suspect far less occurred than you think. Nothing more than negiah. Even Chicago's letter said nothing more than that. Not that negiah is okay at all, obviously, but it's not what you're implying.

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  12. @Jasper you are conflating a number of issues - which really is not characteristic of your thinking.

    Is Meisels guilty of in appropriate contact with woman - yes. As far as I know no one disagrees with that. In fact he confessed to that and his confession is recorded. I am not aware of anyone who claims that his confession is not true and therefore no one defends him saying he is innocent of inappropriate contact with his students. Is that clear?

    Anyone guilty of such an offense is not fit to be in an educational enivornment such as a seminary. Not aware of anyone who disagrees with that either. Is that clear?.

    Now it gets a bit tougher. If a young lady calls the CBD and says that she was raped. Does that make him a rapist? What if 40 girls call up and say they were raped - does that make him a rapist.

    The answer is no. Is it possbile or even likely that he is a rapist - definitely but you can not call him a rapist unless he has been convicted which means the beis din or court needs to hear both sides and issue a ruling

    The Sho'el U'Meishiv says that even if there is not proper testimony that someone who has strong allegations against him that that he molested children - even though he has not been convicted should not be a teacher.

    So when Rabbi Feurst says "kol daar ossur" is he claiming that the beis din pasken this after hearing both sides and that therefore he is a convicted rapist? Meisels denies that it is true. And I doubt that there was a trial.

    Furthermore if the students were raped - why didn't the CBD advise going to the police? Perhaps they don't want to deal with a trial and therefore they are not pressing charges. Perhaps - but that doesn't make him a convicted rapist.

    Perhaps they weren't raped - but were seduced.

    If he is only guilty of seduction - does that invalidate him a the head of a seminary? There are places where by defintion the seduction from a teacher is a crime. However I am not aware that that is the halacha. If it not the halacha - then according to the Torah then we have a problem. A problem that needs a beis din. A beis din that hears both sides.

    Has there been a beis din that has heard both sides - not that I am aware of and there has been no statement issued or leaked from the CBD that there was.

    I hope you understand what I am saying and it should answer your question.

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  13. The admission was to negiah only, as is clear from their letter. The CBD might later have received accusations that more went on; that doesn't make it true. But I don't believe they did. Now that it has been revealed that their purpose is to destroy the seminaries, it serves their purpose to inflate the charges. I don't believe anything they say.

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  14. @Jasper if the allegations are so serious - why didn't
    they pasken that they should go to the police?

    The document shows a lack of concern for the victims e.g, there is no discussion of possible involvement of staff or even fellow students in grooming the victims and thus the mere removal of Meisels is not solving the problem - they clearly did not interview the staff members.

    Is it because they were not aware of the concept of grooming and complictly and two months later they learned about it from the claims of victims and therefore issued their warning a a statment of concern about senior staff. If that is so that mean they are incompetent and ignorant of the nature of abuse.

    Perhaps you have an alternative explantion?

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  15. I disagree with your timeline. I have knowledge that the CBD became aware of the allegations on Pesach, which was approximately one month prior. I believe that at the one month mark, they knew enough to publish their May 19 letter.


    The rest of your statement assumes that the investigation was longer, which I believe isn't true. And please don't disparage the CBD as being incompetent. They worked based on what they knew at that point, in my estimation. It is quite possible that that upon hearing of other victims coming forward, many more victims came forward and that patterns that were otherwise unclear became more clear as time went on, well past the one month mark. Indeed, other CBD letters may have been written reflecting a change in the metzius.


    But I do not feel that learning new facts makes any beis din ineffective, ignorant, or negligent. Do you?

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  16. My point is that all of RDE's suggestions (why didn't cbd do this or that?) are all very nice but they are all actions that the cbd cannot take on their own without cooperation of other parties. How do you know these (or similar suggestions) were not tried already?

    Regarding not knowing the facts... again it could be that in earlier discussions with Meisels and the seminaries other resolutions were attempted. There were probably many conversations between the cbd and Meisels/seminaries. We do not know how those conversations went. Depending on how you fill in these blanks the actions of the cbd might be perfectly reasonable.

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  17. They are covering themselves. They don't want to be accused of discouraging the victims from going to the authorities. It's not an indication that a criminal case exists.

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  18. Don't you think the CBD would have "leaked" that more people came forward. Even the staunchest CBD defenders who seem to know everything going on haven't claimed that. So its rather unlikely that took place.

    Additionally why did they wait to put out a letter that the staff is culpable. Didn't they have that information earlier, or did they suddenly get more new information (which they failed to mention) that prompted the new letter.......

    Eventually when you need to jump through too many hoops to make it make sense its time to realize something sinister is at work

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  19. Correct. It is a terrible aveirah, as well as a betrayal of the parents' and students' trust, and the abuse of his authority. No way I minimize any of this. But it's not rape or "kol davar assur."

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  20. "Is Meisels guilty of in appropriate contact with woman - yes. As far as I know no one disagrees with that. In fact he confessed to that and his confession is recorded."
    If you mean physical contact, there are those who disagree. I heard from the head of one of the seminaries that there was nothing more than kalus rosh on a verbal level.

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  21. Moe, your link says, "Published by Daniel Eidensohn." Perhaps he held that there are halachic issues in posting the names. The names ARE available elsewhere online

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  22. Why we continue to support our decision to send our daughter to Chedvas.

    We are Americans living in Israel, and have been for the past 17 years. Our daughter went to Charedi schools, up to and through 12th grade of a Bais Yaacov. She is an outstanding student and could have gone anywhere. She chose to go to Chedvas, as did some of her friends because:
    - She knows many girls who went there in the past several years, and they all said the same thing: the staff is outstanding, each person is treated as an individual, the school places a strong emphasis on the American approach to Ahavas Yisroel and they deal with and answer all questions of hashkafa that thinking Americans have.

    We have followed this blog and many others.
    We have spoken to Rabbaim at Chedvas, and other schools.
    We conferred with heads of other seminaries here who we know.
    We have conferred with principals of American high schools for girls.

    And, we had a rather long talk with Y. Yarmush.
    We found him to be totally open and frank.
    They are putting into place all the logical recommendations:
    supervision of all staff, from top to bottom. Safeguards of all sorts. Procedures that would prevent any abuse or anything close to abuse.

    Meisels has not been in Chedvas for at least 2 or 3 years. No matter who runs it, or owns it, we are positive that he will not be there.

    There have been no verified complaints from Chedvas about any sexual advances by any staff people.

    Chedvas remains full, and they do not anticipate any problem meeting its financial obligations.

    If anything, the school will be stronger this year.

    So, following our hearts, our heads, and the advice of several senior outstanding mechanchim, we will continue to support our decision to send our daughter to Chedvas,

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  23. Pphysical. Contact of a sexual nature. That is the CBD quote in their first letter.

    That means anything from hugging to fondling. (Perhaps less, but not more.) If it was more, it means sexual contact, not physical contact.

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  24. One thing to keep in mind is the CBD might not have wanted to make every girl who went there a safek besulah in the eyes of the world.

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  25. @Moshe by their action of refusing to allow this matter to come to a resolution they are in fact casting doubts on every girl who had any connection to the seminaries

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  26. Then they shouldn't have put out a public letter. Especially since he had already been issued and accepted their guidelines.

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  27. Correct. I don't dispute that. the post was only about why in their original letter they phrased it like that. Not every comment not bashing chicago should be read as a blanket endorsement of them.

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  28. R'DE: "If he is only guilty of seduction - does that invalidate him a[s] the head of a seminary? There are places where by defintion the seduction from a teacher is a crime. However I am not aware that that is the halacha. If it not the halacha - then according to the Torah then we have a problem. A problem that needs a beis din. A beis din that hears both sides."


    What would be your construction of the halachic framing, principles and criteria that this beis din ought apply in judging his fitness as a seminary head IF he is only guilty of seduction?


    I suspect that clashing halachic constructions in this area might explain a significant part of how things arrived to the present state of global war. I wonder if lurking behind such a halachic clash one would find a disagreement about which premises or assertions from psychology should be accepted or rejected.



    Thanks.

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  29. Is there a copy of the Pesak of the Beth Din that everyone must support RICO? Who signed on it?

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  30. Acc. to the info I received from a parent who was there, that was said orally at a meeting of R. Fuerst and Gottesman. I know someone who called R. Fuerst and he denied there was ever such a meeting. Go figure.

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  31. I add: But he did say on the phone call that it's permitted to join the lawsuit, and he even provided the name of the law firm. Such a helpful man!

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