Yeshiva U. Hires Lecturer With Criminal Record of Sexual Misconduct With Boys

Hebrew Teacher Akiva Roth Convicted of Lewdness

Why, Y.U.? Akiva Roth was convicted of lewdness from his time as a bar mitzvah teacher. The judge slammed him for arrogance and said: ‘he just doesn’t get it.’
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Why, Y.U.? Akiva Roth was convicted of lewdness from his time as a bar mitzvah teacher. The judge slammed him for arrogance and said: ‘he just doesn’t get it.’

By Paul Berger

Published October 08, 2013.
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But if Y.U. hired Roth knowing about his convictions, Swinton said, that also poses a problem for Y.U.

Swinton, who specializes in sexual violence training, prevention and investigation, said: “Unless there’s some sort of extenuating circumstances, it’s surprising to me an institution would hire someone like this to be around its younger students — any of its students really — with a background like this.”

Swinton added: “Given what [Y.U.] is currently experiencing with these abuse allegations, you would think they would be more attuned to the issues.”

Ever since the Forward first reported allegations of sexual abuse made by dozens of former students of Yeshiva University’s High School for Boys, Y.U. has sought to distance current management practices from those of Rabbi Norman Lamm, who was president of Y.U. from 1976 until 2003.

A report commissioned by Y.U. in the wake of the scandal found that “sexual and physical abuse took place” at a number of Y.U. institutions during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

But Y.U. officials suppressed the release of further details contained in the report, including the number of suspected perpetrators or the Y.U. institutions involved, citing a pending $380 million lawsuit brought by former high school students against Y.U. Instead, the version of the report Y.U. released focused on policies and procedures that Y.U. had implemented to prevent abuse or to deal appropriately with abuse allegations at its boys high school, in Manhattan, and at its girls high school, in Queens, as well as at other schools and colleges.

The “university is committed to creating an environment at its high schools and other affiliated schools in which sexual misconduct and other types of harassment are not tolerated,” the report stated, adding that “the university has over time, and especially in the last decade, instituted many policies, procedures, and practices that address these issues.”

Yeshiva College, which specializes in the liberal arts and sciences, is one of three undergraduate schools run by Y.U. The college is located on the university’s Wilf campus, in Washington Heights, one block away from Y.U.’s boys high school and its dormitory.

Roth began work at Yeshiva College this semester. He teaches four Hebrew classes each week.

At the end of one such class, on Thursday, October 3, a Forward reporter asked Roth whether Y.U. had asked about his convictions or whether he had offered the information during the hiring process.

Roth said that the question would be better addressed to Y.U.’s media relations department. He did, however, confirm that he is a full-time member of the Yeshiva College staff.

Roth was arrested in September 1996 on suspicion of abusing several boys ages 11 and 12. During private bar mitzvah classes, Roth exposed and touched himself and encouraged the boys to do the same, according to court records.


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