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Gordon said that he had heard “various forms of [the sodomy accusation] before” but had “no recollection of such a thing.”
Asked if he had ever behaved inappropriately with students, Gordon said: “It depends on how you define ‘inappropriate.’ I would occasionally embrace the students, specifically if he (sic) was depressed… I think any teacher would do that. No, there was no inappropriate conduct.”
Asked whether there was any contact that could be defined as sexual between him and students, Gordon replied, “I don’t think so.” Pressed on his response, he said, “To the best of my memory there was not.”
Gordon said that he stopped teaching at Y.U. High School in 1984 and was placed on a one-year leave of absence until 1985 so that his children, who were on scholarships, could maintain benefits as offspring of a faculty member. He said that he left Y.U. as well as his post as a pulpit rabbi in Teaneck, N.J., because of his divorce, not because of any allegations of abuse.
He added that his personal circumstances were known to Lamm, who “okayed everything.”
Lamm said that he had no recollection of the details concerning Gordon’s departure.
The Forward has spoken to three men who say Finkelstein invited them into an office at Y.U. High School or to his home, where he told them to hit him and wrestle with him. The men recalled the overpowering smell of Old Spice cologne as, pinned to the floor, they felt Finkelstein’s erect penis brush up against them. Finkelstein also tried to kiss some students and told them that he loved them.
“He was unfit to be an educator on any level,” said Simeon Weber, a former Y.U. High School student who lived in a dorm at the school’s Washington Heights campus during the late 1970s and who said he was forced to wrestle with Finkelstein.