At last, eight months and two million dollars later, Yeshiva University (YU) has issued its long awaited report on the scandal of molesting by its high school principal (Rabbi George Finkelstein) and another teacher (Rabbi Macy Gordon) which was first revealed by The Forward in December 2012. The “YU Investigation Report” goes by the ungainly title, “Report of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP Regarding Allegations of Abuse at Yeshiva University and its Affiliated Schools.”
Save yourself the trouble. It is not worth reading. Mostly, they document what the money was spent on but not what they found other than some unspecified abuse in their high school, by unnamed offenders and uncounted victims. Completely missing is any account of who was responsible for mishandling allegations and letting the dismissed rabbis go on to other positions of trust. Whoopee doo, I really feel enlightened.
Most of the report is devoted to their new detailed policies for dealing with abuse going forward. They adhere to both versions of Kol Nidre. It absolves them of past sins and their policies will absolve them in the future.
This report probably cost more and definitely took longer than the report commissioned by Penn StateUniversity (PSU) following the arrest of Jerry Sandusky. That report led to the dismissal of the President of PSU, and two other officials. But then the Penn State Board was determined to be decisive early on when they forced the resignation of their legendary coach, Joe Paterno.
YU is not fooling anyone. They went down a self-protective path dictated by their board and top administrators who hired the worst kinds of lawyers, those whose only talent is prolonging denial and avoidance. The real threat to YU is not the pending lawsuit. They can negotiate a livable settlement to those claims. But they have just suffered deep damage to their credibility as a morally accountable modern orthodox institution. I don’t know if their fund-raising and bond ratings will recover. I am pretty sure their credibility will not come back unless and until they get a different board and president.
PS. In deference to the delicate sensibility of their VP for students, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, they ignored Richard Andron who was sheltered by Kenny Brander in Boca Raton for decades. However, Kenny’s proxy and protege, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg wrote a Rosh Hashanah letter full of pieties, ignoring their safe harbor for Andron, but trumpeting their 24-hour board decision to expel him the moment the lawsuit revealed his history. Nice turnaround, but implausible timeline.
Goldberg also took aim at targets far from his home base. He called on the YU HS principal (Rabbi Michael Taubes) to stop publicly socializing with a known sex offender (Rabbi Baruch Lanner) and he attacked OU Kosher Posek (Rabbi Yisroel Belsky) for defending convicted Lakewood sex offender Yosef Kolko. Nice gestures, but with no cost for Goldberg or Brander.
Courage seems to grow exponentially when these guys get further away from their own institutions. Still I find it encouraging that Belsky is no longer considered an untouchable sacred cow.
Similar arguments about Taubes and Belsky were also made by former RCA President Rabbi Heshie Billet in an article in the Jewish Week.
SEE ALSO: The Negative Reviews of YU’s Abuse Report Are Coming In (8/27/13)