Yeshiva U. Victims Stare Down School's Lawyers in Showdown Over $380M Suit

Judge Puts Off Deciding Whether Case Can Move Forward

Big Day: Kevin Mulhearn, lawyer for ex-Y.U. students, speaks outside Manhattan courtroom where judge heard $380M abuse case.
shulamit seidler-feller
Big Day: Kevin Mulhearn, lawyer for ex-Y.U. students, speaks outside Manhattan courtroom where judge heard $380M abuse case.

By Paul Berger

Published October 30, 2013.
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But, Bitar added, the allegations took place at a time “when the [mores] or what was deemed typical or appropriate was much different than what it is today.”

She said the case should be dismissed based on the statute of limitations because it was unfair to expect Y.U. to defend itself after such a long passage of time, with the fading of memories and when some defendants are dead or no longer able to testify.

Bitar said the former Y.U. students knew they had been injured immediately after they were assaulted, and they knew that their abusers were Y.U. employees, “yet they waited 20 to 40 years to act.”

Referring to a case that Mulhearn won last year against the elite Brooklyn day school Poly Prep, Bitar accused the plaintiffs of using the “Poly Prep playbook.”

United States District Judge John G. Koeltl interrupted Bitar to note that in the Poly Prep case, the school falsely told at least one student that it had investigated claims against the staff member and found them to be untrue. Koeltl noted that in the claim against Y.U., as in the Poly Prep case, there were also instances of students who alleged they had made timely complaints to the school.

The Forward’s first article about abuse at Y.U. was referenced several times during the arguments.

Bitar said the article actually undermined the students’ lawsuit.

She said that some of the plaintiffs could not claim they did not know about the abuse at Y.U. when they told the Forward the abuse had been written about “on blogs and websites,” and that “parents [told the Forward] we didn’t want to go forward, we didn’t want to embarrass the school.”

Koeltl dismissed such statements as hearsay.

The former students argued in court filings that their claims fell under Title IX, anti-sexual discrimination legislation that has been interpreted by courts to include sexual harassment and abuse of students.

Bitar’s colleague, Stephen Mendelsohn, said that the students’ Title IX claims fall outside the statute of limitations.


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