YU Waits Eight Months to Issue a Report that Says Nothing

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.”

YU Pres. Richard Joel &  Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

YU Pres. Richard Joel &
Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

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)

7 thoughts on “YU Waits Eight Months to Issue a Report that Says Nothing

  1. Hypocrite Efrem Goldberg has the chutzpah to criticize Taubus when Lanner has been hanging out in his own Boca shul schmoozing for hours with visiting OU Exec VP Steven Weil? Not that I blame anyone for being scared of Weil who has a history of eating alive anyone he thinks is a political threat to him. Check out his history of throwing out congregants in Detroit & Beverly Hills. (But when Kassirer wore a wire on Shabbos to record & entrap fellow congregants in the Spinka laundering case, Weil did not throw him out as he was worth too much money.)

    • I was at mincha yesterday when Weil gave the davar Torah. Are you saying that Lanner was either at BRS yesterday or is in Boca now? If so, can Lanner be arrested for violating his parole by being a registered sex offender within 1,000 ft of a place where children congregate?

  2. What has me curious is what happened in 2001? The report indicates that from that point on, YU handled all abuse allegations appropriately. If there was indeed a significant change, it would be useful for the community to understand how it worked, as there are lessons to be learned for other institutions. On the other hand, does that mean that abuse allegations were routinely mishandled through 2000? Pretty horrible.

    • I suspect that after the OU-Richard Joel report on NCSY, YU decided to be in the clear legally by adopting the correct policies on paper. Maybe they even did that in practice. Who knows?

      It is also important for Richard Joel to put this point out there as a way of distancing himself from Lamm’s failures in dealing with Finkelstein, Gordon & Andron. However, the policy does not address YU’s obligation to inform other institutions who are employing folks dismissed by YU for CSA.

      Joel thinks and acts like the lawyer he is. On paper he is clear.

  3. Thank you for posting the link to R. Goldberg’s letter. There are so many things about the letter that concern me. He criticizes the silence in the rabbinate about orthodox pedophiles and the rabbis who protect them. R. Goldberg uses 3 examples of orthodox rabbis who protect child molesters. Yet, R. Goldberg remains silent about who these rabbis are. He doesn’t even identify the convicted sex offenders even though their names are public record. Also, R Goldberg is silent about what he and R. Brander knew about Rick Andron.

    Nevertheless, R. Goldberg pledges “I will be transparent with you regarding what I know and how and why I did or didn’t act”. However, he will only discuss it privately, i.e. in secret.

    The only way that this controversy can be dealt with is if he has a meeting open to the public where anyone can question him about what he knew and when he knew it. Those present can then challenge his account. We can find out why he did or did not act and make a decision for ourselves as to whether he acted appropriately. Having private meetings with individuals to discuss this only ensures that no others with knowledge of what happened will be present to contradict his statements. So many people have claimed that R. Goldberg and R. Brander knew about Andron long ago. Do these rabbis deny this? What steps did R. Goldberg and R. Brander take to protect the thousands of children that Andron has had access to at Boca Raton Synagogue for the last 30 years?

    He pledges “I will always put the safety, security and protection of our children first.”. Rick Andron still lives here. What is he doing to protect our children from him right now? Has the BRS community been warned about him? Has a decision been made to try to force Andron out of here?

    Several years ago, to Rabbi Goldberg’s credit, he organized weekly protest meetings outside the office of a local man who refused to give his wife a get. Why isn’t he organizing weekly protests outside Rick Andron’s house until he leaves?

    Are there other people in the BRS area who are suspected of being pedophiles? Who are they and how do we take appropriate measures to protect our children from them?

    Posters have mentioned the name of Dr. BD. Does he live in the Montoya Circle area and what do people know about him?

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