UPDATED: October 10
Yeshiva University, still reeling from allegations that for decades its leaders dealt improperly with the specter of sexual abuse, has hired a new faculty member convicted of inappropriate sexual behavior with boys, the Forward has learned.
Akiva Roth, who started this new school year as a Hebrew teacher at Yeshiva College, pleaded guilty in 1997 to four counts of lewdness against several boys in his work as a private bar mitzvah tutor.
Roth, 42, has not been accused of misconduct at Y.U. But his employment by Yeshiva College calls into question Y.U.’s hiring practices at a time when the university is battling to repair its public image over the sex abuse allegations.
The Forward asked Y.U. a series of questions October 4 about its hiring practices, including whether Y.U. was aware of Roth’s convictions when it hired him and whether it would continue to employ Roth.
By press time, on October 9, Y.U. had not responded to those questions. Instead, a spokesman, Matt Yaniv, issued the following statement: “Yeshiva University maintains an unwavering commitment to preventing sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind and has instituted numerous policies, procedures and practices to ensure a safe environment for our students, faculty, staff and community.
“We will continue to review all of the university’s policies and procedures related to such matters to ensure they reflect the best in class standard. Although we cannot comment on the details of this particular case, as it involves a personnel issue, we will continue to review this matter.”
Prospective Y.U, employees are submitted to a criminal background check by a “third-party vendor,” according to the human resources section of Y.U.’s website.
Daniel Swinton, senior executive vice president of The NCHERM Group, a law and consulting firm that advises schools and colleges on risk management, said that if Roth lied on his application and the background check missed his convictions, it would most likely be cause for Roth’s immediate dismissal.