Y.U. Report on Sex Abuse Draws Mixed Reaction From Modern Orthodox

Some Say Administration Keeping Lid on Crucial Findings

Regret and Shame: Yeshiva U. President Richard Joel expressed regret and shame over the findings of the report, even though it states that conditions improved under his leadership.
yeshiva university
Regret and Shame: Yeshiva U. President Richard Joel expressed regret and shame over the findings of the report, even though it states that conditions improved under his leadership.

By Paul Berger

Published August 28, 2013, issue of September 06, 2013.
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The Modern Orthodox community has broadly welcomed a long-awaited report into allegations that Yeshiva University staff physically and sexually abused numerous students over several decades. But the report, which withheld most of the findings uncovered by investigators, was not enough to mollify some current and former Y.U. students and victims of abuse.

“More will need to be said” in the future, said Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, honorary president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the main clergy association for Modern Orthodox rabbis. But Goldin hailed the report, released August 26, as a “critical milestone” in Y.U.’s handling of the abuse allegations.

Y.U. cited a pending lawsuit as its reason for not releasing the specific findings by the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, which conducted the investigation. The 21-page report instead offered a three-paragraph summary of the investigation, stating that “multiple incidents of varying types of sexual and physical abuse took place” from the mid-1970s through the 1990s at Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan, “in certain instances, after members of the administration had been made aware of such conduct.”

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The report added that until 2001, “there were multiple instances in which the University either failed to appropriately act to protect the safety of its students or did not respond to the allegations at all.” In addition, the report stated that investigators found “that, during the relevant time period, sexual and physical abuse took place at other schools comprising the University as well.”

For now, Goldin said, Y.U.’s statement had to be “viewed against the backdrop of the litigation” and people have to “recognize there’s not going to be a detailed clarity because of legal concerns.” Despite this constraint, Goldin said, the report was “very sobering in its limited findings.”

“The report clearly admits wrongdoing on the part of the university,” Goldin said.

In contrast, Y.U.’s student newspaper, The Commentator, stated that the decision by a so-called Special Committee of the school’s board of trustees to withhold the law firm’s findings was “casting doubt on the true independence of the investigation.”


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