Court upholds dismissal of $680 million sex abuse suit against Yeshiva University

By Michael O'Keeffe and Dareh Gregorian (NY Daily News)
September 4, 2014

A federal appeals court Thursday upheld the dismissal of a $680 million sex abuse lawsuit against Yeshiva University.

In a nine-page ruling, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found the 34 former students who sued the school had waited too long to try to make the school pay for covering up decades of sexual abuse there.

"This is a dark day for justice in New York State. Justice has been perverted," said the victims' lawyer, Kevin Mulhearn. "My clients, sex abuse survivors all, have been violated once again."

The students’ suit said the abuse happened in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, and the decision notes that the case wasn't brought until last year, "more than 20 years after the last plaintiff left" the all-boys' school.

At a hearing last week, Mulhearn argued the victims couldn't have sued earlier because they didn't find out about the school's culpability in the abuse until an expose on its inaction by The Forward newspaper in 2012.

In their ruling, the three-judge panel noted that nine of the students had reported their abuse to the school, and since "administrators rebuffed their complaints or otherwise failed to take adequate remedial action," they should have been well aware of the school's "deliberate indifference."

As for their other claims, "their failure to investigate or to institute a suit for more than 20 years" are too much to overcome, the judges found.

The decision upheld a ruling by Judge John Koeltl earlier this year dismissing the case.

Mulhearn called the appellate decision "a rubber stamp" of Koeltl's "disgraceful dismissal," and said the ruling was "intellectually and morally bankrupt."

"We are not finished. Not by a long shot," he said.

Yeshiva lawyer Karen Bitar declined comment.

In a statement, the school said the ruling "concludes a legal proceeding that has been trying for all involved. Our thoughts remain with anyone who may have been harmed by actions that occurred many years ago and our confidential counseling services remain available to those affected. We move to the future as a proud school with excellent policies and procedures in an atmosphere that is safe and inspiring."