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Schachter has not returned multiple calls and emails for comment since December, including attempts to seek an explanation for his recent remarks. Finkelstein and Gordon have both denied the students’ allegations against them. Rabbi Norman Lamm, who was president of Yeshiva University until 2003, told the Forward in December that several staff members were allowed to leave quietly because of “improper sexual activity.”.
Schachter told the New York Times, in December, that in addition to Finkelstein and Gordon he knew of another staff member who had been let go for similar reasons. He has never revealed the name of that member of staff.
According to Failed Messiah, Schachter was recorded in February, speaking at a rabbinic conference in London, the same month that the U.K.’s United Synagogue held its annual retreat in the city. Two independent sources have confirmed to the Forward that the voice on the tape is, indeed, Schachter’s.
Schachter told his audience that reporting abuse to the police or family service agency does not constitute mesirah — the traditional Jewish prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to the secular authorities.
But Schachter emphasized that Jewish communities nevertheless had to first make sure children were telling the truth before going to law enforcement authorities. He cited several instances in America and in Israel in which he said false accusations were made.
Every community, said Schachter, needs a board of “talmidei chachamim” — Torah scholars — who are also qualified psychologists who could interview victims to see if there is “raglayim la’davar” — or reasonable suspicion — of abuse.
He added: “Before you go to the police and before you got to family services, every community should have a board…to investigate whether there’s any raglayim la’davar or not.”