Connecticut rabbi, 77, arrested on sexual assault charges
A prominent Connecticut rabbi and hard-line morality campaigner, Rabbi Daniel Greer, has been charged with sexually assaulting of a minor – two months after he was ordered to pay $20 million in damages relating to the abuse.
Greer, the founding rabbi of two Jewish schools in New Haven, turned himself in to police Wednesday morning and was charged with second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. Bond was set at $100,000.
Eliyahu Mirlis of New Jersey, now 29, claims the rabbi – who had “orange pubic hair” – raped and sexually molested him hundreds of times when he was a minor and a student at the Yeshiva of New Haven in the early to mid-2000s.
In May, a federal jury ordered Greer and the Yeshiva of New Haven to pay Mirlis $15 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The criminal investigation, however, proceeded more slowly than the civil trial. The lawsuit named Greer and the two schools he founded and runs – the Gan School, a mixed-gender elementary school and and the Yeshiva of New Haven, a boarding high school for boys – as defendants.
In the civil lawsuit, was filed last year, Mirlis claimed the abuse occurred for three years when he was a student at the yeshiva, which Greer also served as principal. He said the abuse took place on school grounds and in Greer’s home. Mirlis attended the school from 2001 to 2005.
Greer has denied the allegations and his attorney said he would appeal the civil judgment. He plans to enter a plea of not guilty, his lawyer Willie Dow, who said:
Rabbi Greer has a long history of positive contributions to the New Haven community. These charges are unfounded. He looks forward to addressing this case in court.
In addition to founding the Yeshiva of New Haven, Greer has served on the New Haven Board of Police Commissioners.
According to this report, Greer publicly crusaded against gay rights. Working with police and prosecutors, Greer and his allies also successfully pressed for the shutdown of a brothel and publicly posted the names of “johns” arrested for patronising street hookers, sweeping public prostitution from the neighborhood.
Greer was in his 60s at the time at the time of the assaults on Mirlis. The lawsuit alleged that he “repeatedly and continuously sexually abused, exploited, and assaulted” Mirlis during his sophomore through senior years, when he was 15 to 17 years old. It described the abuse as:
Acts of sex … including forced fellatio, anal sex, fondling and masturbation. Rabbi Greer frequently gave Eli alcohol at the time he raped and assaulted his child victim. Rabbi Greer showed Eli pornographic films. Rabbi Greer anally raped, sodomised and in other ways sexually assaulted, abused and molested Eli dozens and dozens of times, with each incident lasting on average from one to four hours, and sometimes all night.
The lawsuit added:
Rabbi Greer raped, sodomised and sexually assaulted, abused and molested Eli on school property, in the bedroom of the Rabbi’s private residence, at motels in Branford, Connecticut and Paoli and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on land in Hamden, Connecticut, and at rental properties in New Haven owned and managed by Yeshiva of New Haven, Inc., The Gan School, Inc., and other non-stock Connecticut corporations of which Rabbi Greer was the President, Director and Treasurer.
The school’s “senior officials” “knew and/or should have known that the Rabbi was raping, sodomising and sexually assaulting, abusing and molesting the minor boy; and they did nothing to stop it,” the complaint said.
At all relevant times, administrators and officials of the school failed to safeguard the keys to the rental properties, providing Rabbi Greer with multiple places where he could rape and assault his child victim at his leisure without fear of being discovered or stopped.
The complaint specifically cites an unnamed assistant principal as having had knowledge of the abuse but not taking action.
Before his arrest, the rabbi was photographed naked so that police could collaborate Mirlis’ description of of his abuser. Mirlis told the officers that the rabbi had orange pubic hair (that might have changed with age), a circumcised penis, no tattoos, a hairy back and chest, a mole on his upper back and a scar between one and four inches long between his thigh and one testicle. Mirlis said the scar could be seen only if Greer was naked. He couldn’t remember which leg the scar was on.
After reviewing the images police confirmed that they “corroborated” all of Mirlis’s statements. One wrote:
The images clearly showed that Greer did in fact have a lot of pubic hair, orange in color, an extremely hairy chest, white in color, an extremely hairy back, black in colour. Also, small mole on the upper right side of his back, a small circumcised penis and a scar on Greer’s body one to three inches in length between the right thigh and right testicle.