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!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • 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.