By Daniel Beekman (NY Daily News)
January 30, 2014
The $680 million sexual-abuse lawsuit brought forth by 34 former Yeshiva University prep school students against the Washington Heights institution has been tossed out.
Manhattan Federal Judge John Koeltl ruled Thursday the claims in the lawsuit are barred by statutes of limitation because the alleged abuse by Yeshiva University High School staff occurred decades ago. The decision infuriated the plaintiffs, who plan to appeal.
“My clients are men who have been suffering for years,” said Kevin Mulhearn, their lawyer. “They deserve justice, not this perversion of justice.”
The state statute for negligence is three years from the time of injury and Koeltl applied the same limit to the sexual-harassment claim the plaintiffs brought under federal law.
“The plaintiffs were aware of their abuse at the time it occurred, and of the identity of their abusers and those who employed them,” Koeltl wrote. “Had the plaintiffs approached an attorney prior to their turning 21, they could have brought their claims.”
Mulhearn argued his clients were unable to sue earlier because the school lied to them when they reported their abuse, which happened mostly in the 1970s and ’80s, and dissuaded them from taking action.
He also argued his clients should be exempt from the time limits because they were unaware until 2013 there was widespread abuse and a coverup by the school. The judge found his arguments insufficient.
Yeshiva University is “gratified that the federal court recognized the validity of our arguments,” the school said.