Yeshiva University's Own Expert on Abuse Condemns Recent YU Abuse Report

‘They Did Not Do The Right Thing,’ Says Marci Hamilton


By Anne Cohen

Published September 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Yeshiva University’s resident legal expert on child sexual abuse is condemning her employer’s recent report on the alleged sexual abuse committed by YU staff against high school students under their care.

Marci Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair of Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a nationally recognized legal expert on child sexual abuse, said the report, released August 26, failed to deliver.

“In my view,” she wrote in a detailed critique of the report, “they did not do the right thing.”

“It [the YU Report] provides a four-paragraph (that is not a misprint) summary of ‘Findings,’” she noted in her September 5th article, posted on the website of Verdict, a website of commentary and opinions on legal issues. “Readers are told that ‘multiple incidents of varying types of sexual and physical abuse took place’” at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and at other schools comprising the University, she noted. The report finds that the abuse took place “in some instances, after members of the administration had been made aware of such conduct” but failed to act.

Yet, the report, she observed, offers no information on any of these incidents. “This is little more than a continuation of the cover-up that apparently already occurred,” Hamilton wrote.

Last January, Hamilton dismissed skeptics who worried that the expected report would take just such an approach. “No institution can study this issue with any credibility and fail to report to the public what they’ve found,” Hamilton told the Forward then.

Y.U.’s explanation for the lack of additional details is the $380 million lawsuit currently pending against the Modern Orthodox institution by alleged victims of abuse at its high school for boys. According to Hamilton, that reasoning is faulty. “As YU has argued in court, the claims that are pending, are pending in New York, where the statutes of limitations for sex abuse are among the shortest in the country, which puts virtually all, if not all, of the claims beyond the statute of limitations,” she wrote. “So, what the heck do they have to hide?”

The report, commissioned by Y.U. and based on findings by Sullivan & Cromwell, the New York-based law leading the investigation, was released in August. Richard Joel, president of Y.U., issued a statement shortly after, expressing his deep regret and shame at the findings. Joel’s statement also pledged Y.U.’s commitment to a series of programs designed to prepare ordination candidates and rabbis in the field to properly identify and prevent child sex abuse.

In her rebuttal, Hamilton addressed the list of programs and prevention measures described in the report itself. The most obvious flaw in these measures, she noted, is protocol addressing mandatory reporting of sexual abuse.

New York State law only mandates that abuse perpetrated by a parent, guardian or other legally responsible person be reported to the State Hotline. As Hamilton points out in her writings, this leaves many people outside the obligatory requirements, a stance she compares with that of the bishops of the Catholic Church.

Rather than pointing out the failings in the law and pushing for solutions, Y.U. described a complicated bureaucratic system for reported suspected abuse, which Hamilton calls “so convoluted, it is almost funny. But not quite.”

“This hard-to-follow path,” she adds, “is guaranteed to have employees throwing up their hands in confusion, or worse, it is likely to result in reports that get lost in the cracks of the bureaucracy. There are just too many variables here.”

In her conclusion, Hamilton, who enjoys tenured status on the faculty, voiced dismay at the lack of consideration her employer showed to victims.

“I have never read a document of this genre with less verbiage speaking directly to the survivors,” she wrote. “It is, in a word, cold.”


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!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • 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.