Two different sources tell me that an alleged molester, Rabbi Avrohom Reichman, was fired about a month ago by the Williamsburg Satmar Yeshiva System, United Talmudical Accdaemy (UTA). Joel Engelman filed a lawsuit in 2008, claiming that Reichman, then a prinicipal in UTA, molested him in 1993 when he was 8 years old.
In 2008 Joel reported the abuse to the school system which promised to investigate and remove him if the charges were proven true. At first they seemed to be taking the charges seriously and suspended his employment. But eventually they reinstated him and claimed that nothing of importance had been done by Reichman. It seems like they gave into pressure from Reichman’s family. The family in turn was protecting its reputation for the sake of shiduchim (marriage matches) and social status. So much for UTA caring about the kids in the yeshiva. But the issue won’t go away. Since Joel first publicly accused Reichman, many other victims of Reichman have shared their sad plight with him.
I don’t know if they will rehire Reichman. They may be doing this to placate another victim who threatened to report him to the police before the Statue of Limitations (SOL) expired. If so, they will probably rehire him after the SOL expires unless they are convinced that they cannot get off the hook.
It is possible that they feel threatened by the bad publicity about Reichman that was part of the demonstration I organized in October in front of a Satmar fundraiser in Flatbush. The theme was “Satmar Rebbe, Stop Protecting Molesters.” The literature and signs identified Reichman and Weberman as molesters who are protected by Satmar. To avoid the demonstrators the Rebbe was deprived of his majestic front door entrance. I hear he was furious about our afront to his dignity.
I don’t think they are all that worried about bad publicity or they would have conducted themselves more decently during the Weberman trial. I don’t know how they reckon the potential costs of lawsuits. It is possible that the school is finally waking up to the fact that it could be slammed with lawsuits just like their fellow predator protectors in the Catholic Church. On the other hand, they may feel that they can still stymie most lawsuits by intimidation and fraud and treat the occasional out of court settlement as a cost of doing business.
Of this I am sure, Satmar has still not shown that it cares very much about protecting its children from being molested. Still, whatever their motives it is good news that they are feeling some pressure and recognizing that the pressure can’t just be dismissed and wished away.
I say, let’s keep up the pressure until they finally start doing the right thing on their own.