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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Roth was charged with sexual contact and with endangering the welfare of a child. At the time, he was a teacher at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, now known as the Golda Och Academy, in West Orange, N.J.

In 1997, at the age of 26, Roth pleaded guilty to four counts of lewdness. Barnett E. Hoffman, a superior court judge in New Jersey, sentenced Roth to 10 years of probation.

In imposing the sentence, Hoffman noted that a sex offender therapist determined that Roth was “in the lowest category for risk of re-offense.” But Hoffman added, Roth showed a “lack of appreciation for the wrongfulness of his conduct.”

“Defendant is very arrogant and continues to blame the victims for the trouble he is in,” Hoffman wrote in a statement outlining his sentencing decision. “Furthermore, he does not even see his conduct as sexual in nature, which it clearly is.”

After noting that Roth blamed the boys for “enticing him into this behavior,” Hoffman said that Roth “has very little empathy for his victims and an unawareness of the harm done to them by his actions.”

“In short,” Hoffman concluded, “at this time, ‘he doesn’t get it.’”

In August 1999, Roth was hired by Drew University as a lecturer in modern and biblical Hebrew. According to his LinkedIn page, he was also a chaplain at Drew and a director of Hillel.

He left Drew partway through the academic year, in December 2006.

After leaving Drew, Roth worked at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as its northeast region synagogue initiative director, and for the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York as an Israel engagement coordinator.

Roth’s job at Yeshiva College is his first foray into education in eight years.

The Y.U.-commissioned report into allegations of abuse focused mainly on hiring practices at the university’s high schools and noted that a review of policies at the rest of the university’s undergraduate and graduate schools was continuing.

Sullivan & Cromwell, an international law firm, led the report — said to have cost $2.5 million — aided by Lisa Friel, a sex crimes investigator and consultant who reviewed Y.U.’s policies and procedures for preventing and combating abuse.

The report stated that Y.U. has an “extensive and professional” human resources department, “as well as many procedures in place to ensure that inappropriate people are not hired to work with its students.”

These “procedures are applicable to all of the university’s affiliated schools,” the report said.

After the report was released, Richard Joel, who replaced Lamm as Y.U.’s president, said in a statement: “Today, the university is a safe place infused with a culture of warmth. For years we have enacted and enforced policies and procedures to protect our students and community members.”

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com Follow him on Twitter@pdberger


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