Guest post by Ariella Kay of Zaakah
Parents expect schools to protect their children from molesters. So, imagine the shock and horror for parents of Hebrew Academy of Long Beach (HALB) when they learned that Rabbi Yoseph Ungar, HALB’s first grade boys teacher, was named in a lawsuit for allegedly molesting a six-year-old student.
The former student, Daniel Weiss (who has chosen to disclose his real name rather than using a John Doe pseudonym), is suing HALB (and those who were board members at the time) for alleged negligence which resulted in Weiss being molested by Rabbi Ungar.
The complaint reads:
In or around the Fall of 2002, plaintiff went into the closet in Ungar’s
classroom to get a book while the other students were outside for recess. While he was in the closet, plaintiff saw that there was candy and took some for himself.
Ungar approached plaintiff from behind, questioned him about taking the candy, and then said something to the effect of “You have to do something to get the candy.” Ungar then closed the closet door behind him and cajoled and otherwise required plaintiff to orally copulate him until Ungar ejaculated into Plaintiff’s mouth. Plaintiff spit the semen on the floor and began to cry.
Ungar proceeded to comfort Plaintiff and apologize, and promised to not do it again, as he wiped the semen off the floor.
But according to the lawsuit it did happen again. In fact, it happened some twenty times.
HALB’s Initial Communication to Parents
Within a week of being served in July 2021, HALB sent parents an email informing them:
- Of the allegation,
- That they had placed Rabbi Ungar on administrative leave, and
- That HALB was retaining the Morgan Lewis Firm as an “outside, independent counsel” to investigate the allegations.
HALB’s Unjustified Exoneration of Rabbi Ungar
Four months later, in November of 2021, the school sent another email letting people know the investigation found the allegations were “not substantiated” and Ungar would be returning to the classroom after Chanukah, and he did.
But there had never been an independent investigation. The investigation (whose flaws will be detailed shortly) was conducted by the very same law firm employed by HALB to defend itself against Daniel Weiss’ lawsuit. That was a blatant conflict of interest. Defense attorneys have a vested interest in refuting allegations and limiting a client’s financial exposure and reputational risk. It is not surprising that they also had a vested interest in whitewashing the allegations against Ungar.Continue reading