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Other high-ranking Y.U. officials declined to speak to the Forward. Reached at his New York home, David S. Gottesman, a billionaire investor and a Y.U. chairman emeritus, said: “I don’t talk to reporters. I never have.” Another chairman emeritus, Ronald P. Stanton, who made his fortune in agrochemicals, said, “I have no comment, sorry.” The Forward was unable to reach the other emeritus chairmen, Morry J. Weiss and Robert Beren.
Seymour initially agreed to speak, but then declined after being told that the interview would be on the record. In an email, Seymour said, “We can assure you that Sullivan & Cromwell LLP was retained to conduct an independent, full and complete investigation into the reports of sexual abuse, and we are currently conducting our investigation in that manner.”
Seymour added that Sullivan & Cromwell had retained Lisa Friel, former head of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit, to help with the investigation. Friel left the DA’s office in 2011 to head up a unit at an investigations firm, T&M Protection Resources, where she specializes in probing abuse at public corporations and educational institutions.
Among her first clients was Poly Prep, an elite private school in Brooklyn that was rocked by allegations that a former football coach, Phil Foglietta, had abused students there for decades. During the ensuing civil lawsuit, Friel antagonized some victims by telling The Wall Street Journal that school administrators could not be blamed for earlier lapses, because people “had very different understandings of what sexual abuse was in the ’60s and ’70s and what a pedophile was.”
Norman Lamm, Y.U.’s chancellor, expressed a similar view when he spoke to the Forward last month, on December 7. Lamm, who was president of Y.U. during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, when most of the abuse is alleged to have taken place, told the Forward that a number of Y.U. staff members were quietly let go during that period, following charges of improper sexual activity. “This was before things of this sort had attained a certain notoriety,” Lamm said. “There was a great deal of confusion.”