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“Rabbi Finkelstein informed the executive that in his interview with the police, he insisted that he be submitted to a polygraph test on the spot,” Lanton said in a statement. “The police responded that this would not be necessary. No further action was taken by the police.”
Joel and Lamm have been frequent guests for services at the synagogue. Y.U. has held at least one event there.
Joel did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. In a statement on December 19 Y.U. said it “continues to examine with concern the allegations of past abuse recently reported in the media. A subcommittee of the Board of Trustees is working with the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell as outside Counsel, who is assisting us in investigating the allegations and consulting with nationally recognized specialists in this area to review our policies and procedures.”
Joel’s initial expression of regret was enough for the RCA’s president, Shmuel Goldin, to commend Joel for “his forthright response and statement of concern.”
Reached for comment December 18, Goldin said: “When you compare this community to others, at least what you are getting is an immediate expression that we are going to deal with this, not that we are going to sweep this under the rug.”
Goldin said he was not aware that Broyde or Herring, or any other RCA rabbis, knew about the allegations against Finkelstein.
The RCA’s executive vice president, Rabbi Mark Dratch, said he, too, was unaware of allegations against Finkelstein or any other former Y.U. staff members. Dratch, who is Lamm’s son-in-law, declined to comment on Lamm’s actions as Y.U. president.
Goldin said that he was not sure what he would have done if he had learned of such allegations in the past. But he added: “Our position is, individuals who are aware of such allegations should go directly to the authorities… And anything short of that does not satisfy that position.”
Goldin said Finkelstein and Gordon, “deserve to have a fair hearing on these allegations.”
“Nobody should be tried on the pages of a newspaper,” he added.
Nathan Jeffay contributed reporting from Jerusalem