A NEW York Jewish High School operated by the flagship school of Orthodox Judaism – Yeshiva University – was hit this week by a $380 million federal law suit filed by 19 former pupils who claim they were abused by two rabbis. One victim claims he was sodomised with a toothbrush.
The suit was filed shortly after Rabbi Norman Lamm, 85 the chancellor and head of the Yeshiva seminary, resigned. Lamm, who was president of the university when the abuse took place in the 1970s and 1980s, said in a resignation letter that he was doing penance for mishandling allegations against staff members.
News of the lawsuit came in the same week that one of Australia’s most senior priests, retired Bishop Michael Malone, admitted that he deliberately ignored allegations of sexual abuse – and enraged victim support groups for joking that he should have destroyed documents relating to criminal priests in his Maitland-Newcastle diocese.
He was giving evidence at the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse in the diocese by priests as well as by members of the police force. The inquiry is looking at whether the church covered up the crimes of two paedophiles, Catholic priests Dennis McAlinden and James Fletcher, who served in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese.
Malone said he was out of his depth in matters of child protection and that he turned a blind eye to decades of complaints against Father McAlinden because:
The whole area of sexual abuse is so distasteful that I would have found it unpalatable.
He also said he “felt compelled” to protect the Church.
Meanwhile, the 148-page New York lawsuit accuses Lamm and various other Yeshiva officials, trustees, board members and faculty of:
A massive cover-up of the sexual abuse of students.
The latest developments come more than six months after a Jewish newspaper, The Forward, revealed that university officials responded to complaints of sexual abuse at the boys’ school by quietly allowing at least two suspected abusers to leave and find work elsewhere.
More than 20 men have said that they were abused by either Rabbi George Finkelstein or Rabbi Macy Gordon and that the university knew about the allegations. Both rabbis, who now live in Israel, have denied the charges.
One victim alleged that a rabbi sodomised him with a toothbrush while others say they were fondled and abused in other ways. They say that those boys who reported the assaults were told to keep their allegations quiet.
Attorney Kevin Mulhearn, who filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs said:
Yeshiva University High School held itself out as an exemplary Jewish secondary school when in fact it was allowing known sexual predators to roam the school at will seeking other victims. Childhood sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community can no longer be condoned and excused.
Each of the 19 victims is seeking $20 million in damages, for a total of $380 million.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Malone report)