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Yeshiva U. Cuts Loose Hebrew Teacher Akiva Roth Over Criminal Record With Boys

Yeshiva University has let go a recently hired Hebrew teacher following a Forward report that the teacher, Akiva Roth, had previous convictions for sexually inappropriate behavior with boys.

Y.U. said it had “erred” in hiring of Roth by “permitting the new hire to begin teaching before the screening process had been completed.”

Y.U. would not clarify whether Roth, 42, resigned or whether he was fired. Nor would the university clarify whether Roth had told administrators of his previous convictions when he was hired as a member of Yeshiva College’s Hebrew faculty at the end of this summer.

“While all appointments are subject to thorough background checks, the University erred in this case, permitting the new hire to begin teaching before the screening process had been completed,” a Y.U. spokesman, Matt Yaniv, said in a statement, released October 11. “Yeshiva University will continue to re-evaluate its hiring processes and work to close any gaps in our procedure.”

“After an extensive review of this matter, Mr. Roth is no longer employed by the University,” Yaniv added. “To our knowledge, he has not engaged in any inappropriate conduct during his time at Y.U.”

Roth pleaded guilty in 1997 to four counts of lewdness against several boys in his work as a private bar mitzvah tutor in New Jersey.

His employment by Yeshiva College called into question Y.U.’s hiring practices at a time when the university is battling to repair its public image over allegations that for decades its leaders dealt improperly with the reports of sexual abuse against members of its staff.

Thirty-four former students of a Y.U.-run boys high school are suing Y.U. for $380 million, claiming that the Modern Orthodox institution covered up abuse allegations during the 1970’s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

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

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