A federal judge was “spectacularly wrong” to toss out a $680 million lawsuit brought by former students who say they were abused decades ago at Yeshiva University’s Manhattan high school for boys, a lawyer for the students said.
“It would shock me to not prevail on appeal,” an attorney for the former students, Kevin Mulhearn, told the Forward on April 3.
The lawsuit, brought by 34 former students, was dismissed in January by a federal judge in Manhattan, John Koeltl.
Koeltl cited New York State’s statute of limitations, which gives victims three years to file a civil claim, as the reason for his decision.
But Mulhearn argues that the statute of limitations did not begin to run when the abuse occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.
In court papers filed with the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on April 1, Mulhearn argues that the clock began to run in December 2012, when the victims found out they had been deceived by Y.U.
That was the month when the Forward published an article which showed that Y.U. was aware for decades that two of its employees, rabbi George Finkelstein and rabbi Macy Gordon, were abusing students.
In court papers, Mulhearn said that Y.U. officials received at least 25 abuse allegations against Finkelstein and Gordon, from 1971 to the late 1980s. Yet Y.U. continued to employ the men and to laud them even after they left Y.U.
Schools “which successfully cover-up sexual abuse by their employees…must be held legally accountable once their long-term cover-ups are finally, at long last, publicly exposed,” Mulhearn wrote in his appeal.
Y.U. is expected to file its response to the former student’s appeal by the middle of May.