Thirty-eight former students of an Orthodox Jewish school in New York City operated by Yeshiva University have sued over claims they were molested by two prominent rabbis in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, according to an Associated Press report.
The suit, filed last Thursday in New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleges that the university failed to protect students at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and promoted one of the rabbis to principal even after receiving abuse reports.
A university spokesperson declined to comment, citing a school policy against speaking publicly about litigation.
The lawsuit is one of hundreds that have been filed over child sexual abuse allegations since last week, when New York state opened a one-year window for suits previously barred by the state’s statute of limitations.
During a news conference Thursday, three of the alleged victims appeared with their lawyers and spoke about disturbing behavior they say went on for decades.
“I didn’t even understand at the time that this was sexual abuse; I just knew that this guy was putting his hands all over me,” said Barry Singer, 61, speaking of one of the rabbis he said kept reaching into the boy’s pants, even in school hallways.
The AP doesn’t typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse unless they choose to be named.
One of the accused rabbis, George Finkelstein, targeted children of Holocaust survivors, according to the lawsuit, telling them they would increase their parents’ suffering if they spoke about the abuse.
The other, Rabbi Macy Gordon, who taught Jewish studies, allegedly sodomized boys in a “vicious and sadistic” manner using objects, the lawsuit says. Gordon died in 2017 in Israel.
Gordon and Finkelstein have denied the allegations in the past.
Finkelstein was promoted from assistant principal to principal even after some of the boys’ parents reported the alleged abuse to school officials, the plaintiffs said. He eventually moved to Israel, where he worked at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue.
Thirty-four of the plaintiffs attempted to sue Yeshiva University for sexual abuse and facilitating sexual abuse in 2013, but the case went nowhere because it was barred by the statute of limitations at the time.