A major suit has been filed against Yeshiva University by 38 men alleging that they suffered sexual abuse at the hands of school teachers and officials, which was subsequently covered up by the school’s administration.
The suit, filed Thursday in a Manhattan civil court, resurrects a previous civil case against Yeshiva University, brought by many of the same plaintiffs and one of the same attorneys, which an appeals court dismissed in 2014 for having been filed after New York’s statute of limitation on such cases had run out. The suit was seeking damages in excess of $680 million.
The new suit was filed under the Child Victim’s Act, signed into law in New York early in 2019, which extended the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse and opened a year-long look-back period, during which civil sexual abuse cases could be re-filed if they had been previously dismissed for being filed after the statute of limitations.
The first civil suit came after the Forward broke news of longstanding accusations of sexual abuse perpetrated by several YU staff members and associate teachers, which was reportedly hushed up for decades by the school’s leadership. The reporting, and the subsequent lawsuit, led to the resignation of the university’s chancellor, Rabbi Norman Lamm, who had told a Forward reporter that he and the school’s administration were aware of the allegations.
The Forward’s reporting also led to YU commissioning a report from a private investigative firm to look into the allegations. But many in the community saw the resulting report as not sufficiently transparent.
The new suit names several of the original plaintiffs, plus dozens of additional “John Does.” It names Lamm, as well as Robert Hirt, vice president of YU’s rabbinical seminary, and members of Yeshiva’s board of directors as defendants. The complaint details allegations of abuse and inappropriate sexual contact by Rabbi George Finkelstein, an administrator at Yeshiva University’s boys high school; Rabbi Macy Gordon, a Judaics study teacher who allegedly sexually abused boys at the school; and Richard Andron, a martial arts instructor employed by the school who allegedly sexually abused boys in his classes.
One other Jewish suit has been filed since the CVA’s look-back period began on August 14: A suit alleging sexual abuse, and a cover-up of that abuse, at the Conservative movement’s Ramah Berkshires camp in upstate New York.
Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman