By Rich Cader (New York Post)
April 20, 2015
He lost a lawsuit against Yeshiva University’s prestigious all-boys school involving alleged decades-long sex abuse — so his parents are now trying to make an end-run at justice.
In what their lawyer calls a first-of-its-kind move in the state, Israel and Chaya Gutman are set to file a lawsuit Monday claiming that the embattled Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy in Manhattan is guilty of deceptive advertising by touting the high school as a safe place to send youths.
“This is the first case in which a parent has sued a school for deceptive practices based upon the school’s retention of known sexual predators,” said the Florida couple’s lawyer, Kevin Mulhearn, to The Post.
“This is a lawsuit brought by parents who suffered every person’s worst nightmare.”
According to the Manhattan Supreme Court suit, “Most savvy Jewish educational consumers… would have never imagined that [the school], despite its glowing and positive impressions, would have permitted their son to endure an educational experience… that was consistently threatened, and often stained, by known sexual predators in high positions of authority.”
The document echoes rampant allegations of sex abuse made against former school officials — from the principal on down — in a previous $680 million federal lawsuit.
That suit involved 34 unnamed former students who attended the school between 1969 and 1991, including the Gutmans’ son, who is now in his late 40s and lives in Israel.
The lawsuit was dismissed last year by a Manhattan federal judge, who said the plaintiffs were well past their three-year statute of limitations between when the alleged abuse occurred and when they sued in 2013.
Mulhearn is arguing in the new lawsuit that the parents’ statute of limitations for filing suit should start when they found out about the alleged molestation.
The couple says their son only came to them after a newspaper article surfaced in December 2012 detailing the former students’ allegations.
In the article published in The Forward, then-Yeshiva University Chancellor Norman Lamm acknowledged two rabbis were allowed to leave quietly after students accused them of sex abuse.
“The Gutmans could not have possibly known Yeshiva was engaging in this type of conduct until after The Forward story broke and their son told them he was one of the kids molested,” Mulhearn said.
The Gutmans are seeking unspecified money damages for their pain and suffering and reimbursement for tuition and other expenses they shelled out to Yeshiva.
Mulhearn said he believes other parents of molested ex-students at the school will also join the suit.
The Gutmans claim their son in the early 1980s was sexually abused by Rabbi George Finkelstein, a former principal, and Richard Andron, a former university student and friend of Finkelstein who was allowed to roam freely in the school’s hallways and dorms. They say their son still suffers from drug addiction, depression and other problems because he was molested at the school.
Besides Finkelstein and Andron, other ex-students have alleged being raped by Rabbi Macy Gordon, a former teacher. His alleged dirty deeds include sodomizing one victim with a toothbrush covered in toothpaste during a violent attack in a school dorm room.
None of the boys ever tried to bring criminal charges against anyone because that statute of limitations is 10 years, and they were well beyond it by the time they came forward.
Yeshiva University said in a statement Sunday, “The allegations of abuse have already been fully litigated in federal court and dismissed on the grounds that the alleged acts occurred decades ago, well beyond the statute of limitations … Now, Mr. Mulhearn is attempting a legal maneuver involving one set of parents, not any of the alleged victims.
“We will continue to defend against his actions as we focus on enhancing our position as a premier institution for learning.”