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.
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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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When it was Mulhearn’s turn to speak, he said that his clients’ case was about whether the court was “willing to hold a school responsible for 25 to 30 years of cover-up.”

Mulhearn said that Finkelstein would take “defenseless boys,” and pin them to the floor, “where they couldn’t move, and proceed to hump them in the backside with an erect penis until he achieved climax.” Finkelstein ordered the students not to tell their parents, Mulhearn said. “Nothing was done about Mr. Finkelstein until 1995, when he was finally, quietly fired,” he added.

To show how difficult it was for the former students to realize the extent of the cover-up, Mulhearn gave an example of one Y.U. victim, John Doe XX, who was abused between 1983 and 1986.

Mulhearn said that John Doe XX had no way of knowing that three students reported Finkelstein for inappropriate sexual behavior to Rabbi Norman Lamm, Y.U.’s then president, between 1983 and 1985. Further, in 1985, Y.U. named Finkelstein “educator of the year” and in 1988 promoted him to principal.

Mulhearn said that by the time John Doe XX reached the statute of limitations, in 1989, he believed Y.U. saw Finkelstein as an “exemplary educator.”

Mulhearn said that the former students had been prevented from filing a Title IX claim because such A claim requireS a plaintiff to prove that “an official with high-ranking authority had actual knowledge and acted with deliberate indifference.” Such knowledge was apparent only after the first Forward article was published, and the statute of limitations started running only at that point, Mulhearn said.

In the coming months Koeltl is expected to issue a ruling on whether the case will be dismissed.

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


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