38 Victims of Alleged Sexual Abuse at NYC Jewish High School File Revived Lawsuit
Thirty-eight former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys in New York City have filed a lawsuit alleging systematic sexual abuse carried out by two rabbis over a period of three decades.
The suit, filed in the 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.
At a news conference on Thursday, three of the victims gave harrowing accounts of the abuse they said was meted out by Rabbi George Finkelstein — who was promoted to school principle in 1971 — and his colleague Rabbi Macy Gordon during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
“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,” one of the victims, 61-year-old Barry Singer, told the news conference.
Both rabbis are understood to have moved to Israel. Gordon died there in 2017, while Finkelstein is reported to be living in Jerusalem. Attempts by various New York media outlets to track down Finkelstein on Friday were unsuccessful.
The Yeshiva University High School suit is one of a raft of sexual abuse cases filed in New York over the last week, following the state’s decision to open a one-year window for cases that previously expired under the statue of limitations. Legal efforts to open a sexual abuse case against Yeshiva University High School in 2013 failed because of the statute of limitations.
The suit alleges that at least three of Finkelstein’s victims were the children of Holocaust survivors who were instructed by him to keep silent about the abuse, otherwise they would increase their parents’ suffering.
“John Doe 31′s father was a Holocaust survivor and Finkelstein cravenly used that information to ensure John Doe 31′s silence and submission to his predations,” read one of the victim accounts contained in the suit. “Finkelstein repeatedly told John Doe 31 that he would be in big trouble if he ever informed anyone about Finkelstein’s depraved acts and that John Doe 31′s father, who had already ‘suffered enough,’ would be shamed if he learned about Finkelstein’s abuse.”
Rabbi Gordon, who taught Jewish studies, allegedly sodomized boys in a “vicious and sadistic” manner using objects, the lawsuit said.
A Yeshiva University spokesperson declined to comment on the case, citing a school policy against speaking publicly about litigation.