Former students who say they were physically and sexually abused at Yeshiva University High School for Boys say they are disappointed but not surprised that a judge dismissed their $680 million lawsuit against Yeshiva University.
Seven ex-students told the Forward that despite the legal setback they achieved a tangible victory by witnessing their decades-old allegations aired — and acknowledged — in public.
Barry Singer, one of the 34 former students who sued Y.U. and one of two named in the suit, said: “To me, the victory is getting it out in the open.”
“The fact [is] that we could sit in the courtroom and have an advocate… stand up and accuse Yeshiva University of things I never dreamed we would get to accuse them of in public,” Singer said.
Another plaintiff, who is an anonymous litigant in the lawsuit, said: “If I in any way helped one kid not get abused or one sicko person realize he’s in trouble if he does it, then it was worth all my emotional efforts.
“Am I disappointed? Yes. Did I expect it? Yes.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in July, 2013, accused Yeshiva University of covering up abuses by Rabbi George Finkelstein, a high school administrator, Rabbi Macy Gordon, a Talmud teacher, and Richard Andron, a visitor to Y.U. high school’s dormitory.
All of the incidents were alleged to have taken place during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.
United States District Judge John G. Koeltl, dismissed the lawsuit last month citing federal and state statutes of limitations. In a written decision, published January 30, Koeltl noted that “the statutes of limitations have expired decades ago, and no exceptions apply.”
Kevin Mulhearn, an attorney for the former students, has vowed to appeal.
Although most of the former students the Forward contacted seemed to take the decision in their stride, one former student was less sanguine.
“It was a travesty of justice,” said the man, who is an anonymous litigant in the lawsuit. “You will notice that not for a second did the judge or Yeshiva University deny any of the allegations or that any of these horrible incident ever occurred.”
“Law is law,” the former student added. “But the statute of limitations can’t possibly begin to apply to a 15 year old minor who has been molested and threatened not to talk. That minor lives his whole life with an incredible amount of doubt and uncertainty about whether he is crazy or not.”
He added: “It hurts so bad… But if I’ve survived the last 30 years, I’ll survive another 30 years if I have to see the enablers brought to justice.”