Former Y.U. High School Students File $380M Suit Claiming Sex Abuse Cover-Up

Student Pleas for Help Ignored — 'They Just Wouldn't Listen'

Accused: Yeshiva University High School for Boys, where George Finkelstein (left inset) and Macy Gordon (right inset) are alleged to have had inappropriate sexual contact with students, is located in Manhattan. Both men deny the charges. These images were taken from the 1970 Elchanite Yearbook.
Courtesy of Yeshiva University
Accused: Yeshiva University High School for Boys, where George Finkelstein (left inset) and Macy Gordon (right inset) are alleged to have had inappropriate sexual contact with students, is located in Manhattan. Both men deny the charges. These images were taken from the 1970 Elchanite Yearbook.

By Paul Berger

Published July 08, 2013.
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The suit also alleges that Richard Andron, a former Y.U. student now believed to be living in Boca Raton, Fla., was allowed to visit the high school dormitory even though staff knew he was a threat to children. Two former high school students say Andron abused them after befriending them in the dormitory.

The abuse took a terrible toll on students, according to the lawsuit. Many have suffered from depression, anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual addiction, emotional distress, broken marriages, and problems holding down a job. Some have spent years in counseling and on medication.

Several former students contemplated or attempted suicide shortly after they were abused or after attempts to alert Y.U. were ignored. One victim said the abuse made him fear having children of his own, the lawsuit contends.

Many former Y.U. administrators and staff are named in the suit, including Rabbi Lamm, who was president of Y.U. from 1976 to 2003. Lamm retired as Y.U. chancellor on July 1. In a letter announcing his retirement, Lamm acknowledged making mistakes in his handling of abuse allegations when he led Y.U.

Rabbi Robert Hirt, a former vice president of Y.U.’s theological seminary, which has oversight of operations at Y.U.’s high school, is also named. The suit also targets as yet unidentified board members of Y.U. and of Y.U.’s high school during the period the suit covers.

Mordechai Twersky, of Israel, and Singer are the only victims named in the lawsuit. Others are listed anonymously. Twersky, who first brought the allegations of abuse at Y.U. to light, declined to comment on the suit. “I would like to let the complaint speak for itself,” Twersky said.

Although overcoming New York’s statute of limitations is difficult, Mulhearn has been successful once before. He used a similar legal strategy to win an undisclosed settlement on behalf of 12 men who were sexually abused decades ago by Phil Foglietta, a football coach at the elite Poly Prep Country Day School, in Brooklyn.

Finkelstein and Gordon continued to work in Israel until the Forward’s stories were published. Reached by the Forward in December, both men denied any wrongdoing.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter @pdberger

Lawsuit filed by former Yeshiva University High School Students against Y.U.


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