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“I don’t really remember exactly how it happened, but he [Gordon] wound up looking to see where I was developing physically,” the man, now 48, recalled.
Gordon went through the boy’s medicine cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Chloraseptic. He pulled back the boy’s bathrobe again and told him, “You have simanim [signs],” and sprayed Chloraseptic on the boy’s pubic hair. He then sodomized the boy with a toothbrush.
The man’s father, who also did not wish to be named, said he did not report the incident to police because he did not want to hurt his son or to damage Y.U.’s reputation. But the family did lodge an official complaint with the school.
The man’s father said he trusted that Israel Miller, a senior vice president of Y.U. in 1980 who died in 2002, would deal with his son’s complaint. “We had a lot of ties to Y.U., our family has a lot of ties to Y.U.,” the father said, “and at that point we also felt that this kind of exposé would not do [our son] any good, either.”
The man and his father said that Miller took detailed notes on the incident and promised that Y.U. would take care of the matter. Instead, Gordon was allowed to stay on staff and to retire a few years later without a blemish on his record.
The man said he does not blame his parents, who were only concerned with protecting him. But he said he does blame Y.U., which appeared only to be concerned with protecting itself.
“When the institution is more important than the people, then what’s the point of the institution anyway?” the man said. “It’s too late for justice, but it would be interesting to see some of this come to light.”
Since moving to Israel in 1985 after divorcing his wife, Gordon has spent much of his working life as a senior officer at the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Jerusalem. Both Gordon and Finkelstein serve as advisory board members to the council, an affiliate of the American-based, right-leaning Modern Orthodox organization.
The Forward spoke to Gordon on November 28 at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center, in Jerusalem, where he had just completed a lecture on the laws of Sabbath observance.