Judge's Ruling Is Big Victory to Y.U. in $380M Sex Abuse Suit, Experts Say

Without Discovery, School Has Little Reason To Settle


By Anne Cohen

Published August 16, 2013, issue of August 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The plaintiffs in the suit against Y.U. charge that as students they were abused on repeated occasions by Rabbi George Finkelstein, the school’s former principal; by Rabbi Macy Gordon, who was a senior Talmud instructor there, or by Richard Andron, an outsider who frequently visited the Y.U. dormitory in which they lived with no interference from Y.U. authorities. The plaintiffs are asking $380 million in compensation and damages.

“It’s impossible to know whether the plaintiffs can survive this motion until we see what [their] answer [to the motion to dismiss] is,” Burstein said. “I’d be very loath to allow 30 years to pass before you brought an action.”

Marci Hamilton, who is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Yeshiva University’s Bejamin N. Cardozo School of Law and has spent years studying child sexual abuse, disagreed.

“This is another example of how the New York statutes of limitations for child sex abuse victims block justice and hinder the education of the public about the institutions that create the conditions for abuse and the individuals who abuse children,” she wrote in an email.

Asked to expand her answer, Hamilton replied that as an employee of Y.U. she could not comment on the situation. But in the past, Hamilton has cited research that shows it often takes child victims of sexual abuse many years, and even decades into adulthood, to confront what happened to them.

Even Burstein acknowledged that in some cases, the current statute was too restrictive.

“It seems to me that given a society that at least acknowledges that sexual abuse is not uncommon, and [in which] there’s a lot of pressure not to say anything, that maybe you need to give kids a little longer,” she said. “But I don’t think you give them forever.”

New York Assemblywoman Margaret Markey has been pushing for reform of the statute of limitations for the past several years. The N.Y. Child Victims Act, which she sponsors, would, in its current version, abolish the time limits for such cases in the future and address past abuse by opening a one-year window for victims to file civil law suits against their abusers and against institutions that either knew or should have known about such inappropriate conduct by their staff members.

The Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America, an ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, have been adamant opponents of the bill.

Regarding Koeltl’s ruling, Markey wrote in a statement to the Forward that “what is particularly noteworthy in this Yeshiva University case is the apparent pattern of cover-up to protect the institution and its leaders.

“It appears to mirror other prominent cases we have seen in the past few years where religious, educational and youth organizations and institutions have protected pedophiles and abusers by preventing law enforcement from acting in a timely way to bring child molesters to justice.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.