Thursday, December 13, 2012

Penn State, Catholic Clergy, Boy Scouts and now, Yeshiva University High School


by Gary Snyder

The Yeshiva University 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.

Now, Y.U. President Richard Joel said in a statement issued on December 3 that the school was “looking with concern into the questions.” Norman Lamm, who was president of Y.U. from 1976 to 2003, is now speaking following a Forward investigation into allegations of sexual assault committed at Y.U. high school’s Washington Heights campus by a former Talmud teacher, Rabbi Macy Gordon, and by former principal Rabbi George Finkelstein. 

Lamm, now chancellor, indicated in a Forward interview that he knew about some of the allegations and chose to deal with them privately even though at least one family lodged an official complaint with the school. Lamm noted that no one from Y.U. had yet contacted him to ask about the allegations.

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.

Lamm said, during the period many of the assaults are alleged to have taken place, about 30 years ago, he was preoccupied by the university’s dire financial state so they were not that significant relative to other things that we were dealing with” at the time.  (The Jewish Daily Forward)

This story is unfolding. I certainly hope that it does not take as long as the Catholic Clergy and Boy Scouts scandals did to fully uncover and that is better handled than the Penn State fiasco was.



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