Yeshiva Officials, Rabbis Knew of Alleged Abuse

More Students Say Nothing Was Done About Allegations


By Paul Berger

Published December 20, 2012, issue of December 28, 2012.
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He described what he said felt like 15 to 20 minutes in which Finkelstein lay on his back, with the short, lightweight 16-year-old student on top of him, facing the ceiling. Finkelstein started “shark-biting” him, which involved pinching very hard using all four fingers and the palm of his hand, all over the boy’s inner and outer thigh.

“I’m begging him: ‘Rabbi, please stop. I’m not feeling well,” the man said. “But he was twisting me and turning me and shark biting me all over my body and all over my thighs.”

The next day, at school, Rabbi Samuel Scheinberg noticed marks on the boy’s neck. He asked him to take off his shirt and lift his undershirt, revealing welts all over the boy’s body.

“He goes, ‘Who did this to you?’” the man said. “Rabbi Finkelstein walks in at that very second… and I look up, and I said, ‘He did.’”

The man said Scheinberg took Finkelstein out of the room and argued with him for some time before Finkelstein returned and reprimanded the boy. “I thought what happened last night was between the two of us,” the man said Finkelstein told him. He said he never reported the abuse to his parents. Scheinberg has since died.

In 1991, when Finkelstein was promoted to principal, another former student, Simeon Weber, said he went to Y.U. to complain that he had been sexually abused when Finkelstein wrestled with him.

Weber said he first approached Irwin Shapiro, chairman of the high school board. Weber said Shapiro removed the door from Finkelstein’s office. “He meant well but was naive,” Weber said. Shapiro did not return a call for comment.

Weber said he also approached Robert Hirt, who today is a vice president emeritus of Y.U. But Hirt cut off Weber before he could finish telling his story, Weber said.

“[Hirt] said, ‘Mr. Weber, stop speaking lashon hara [malicious gossip],’” Weber recalled. “It was like I was abused all over again.” (When reached by the Forward, Hirt referred questions to Y.U.’s communications department. A spokesman declined to comment.)


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