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Brooklyn, NY - Unprecedented Settlement Has Yeshiva Paying Millions To Students Abused By Rebbi

Published on: October 23, 2016 10:00 AM
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FILE - Rabbi Yehuda Kolko was charged with sexual abuse, accused of molesting students at Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, where he was a teacher. He pleaded guilty to child endangerment. (Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin/NY DailyNews via Getty Images)FILE - Rabbi Yehuda Kolko was charged with sexual abuse, accused of molesting students at Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, where he was a teacher. He pleaded guilty to child endangerment. (Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin/NY DailyNews via Getty Images)

New York - Two former Brooklyn yeshiva students who were abused by a teacher will be receiving a payout of $2.1 million from their alma mater.

The New York Post reported that both boys were six year old students at Yeshiva Torah Temimah when they were abused by Rabbi Joel Kolko. 

Lawsuits filed against the yeshiva charged that the school kept Kolko on as a rebbi despite 25 years worth of “multiple credible allegations of pedophilia.”  The lawsuit also alleged that while Torah Temimah knew that Kolko was molesting children, it gave him unsupervised access to children, covered up allegations of sexual abuse and threatened families who complained about Kolko.

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Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes cut a deal with Kolko in 2012 requiring him to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment while sparing him both jail time and having to register as a sex offender.

A 2014 settlement had the yeshiva admitting no guilt but paying one student $900,000 and the other $1.35 million.  Torah Temimah still owed the two boys a total of $2.1 million, an amount it agreed to pay last week after papers were filed against the yeshiva in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

The settlements in the Kolko case are the first ever paid by a yeshiva to students who were sexually abused by a staff member.

“This is unheard of,” said well known victims’ advocate Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University. “I am not aware of any other settlements.”

Rabbi Blau said that he is hopeful that the settlement will prompt yeshivas to takes allegations of sexual abuse against students more seriously.

“If word gets out, other schools will think twice if they hear about abuse,” said Rabbi Blau.

Four other Torah Temima students who say they were abused by Kolko filed suit against the yeshiva, but their cases were dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

According to Marci Hamilton of CHILD USA, an organization devoted to child abuse prevention, cases of this nature are rare in New York because charges must be filed against schools by age 21 and against predators by age 23 and many molestation victims are not mentally prepared to deal with the abuse they suffered at that time.

“Even as teenagers, it’s impossible to process what’s happened to them by someone they trusted,” explained Hamilton. “Asking to come forward is much more than most of them can handle.”

Efforts to pass a law that would extend the statute of limitations in New York have failed multiple times.  Attorney Carmen Durso, who worked to enact tougher laws in Massachusetts described the current laws in New York as “a national shame,” according to The Daily News.

A bill to extend the statute of limitations in New York is currently pending in the State Legislature.


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Oct 23, 2016 at 11:01 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

Seems an exceptional punishment for an exceptional crime.

2

 Oct 23, 2016 at 12:50 PM judith Says:

Thank you new York State Court system. A fair settlement for an irrepairable crime. This should serve as a deterrent to similar behaviors.

3

 Oct 23, 2016 at 01:58 PM Esther Says:

Hopefully the law will pass but the Catholic Church and Agudah lobby on the same side on this issue claiming it will bankrupt religious schools. That's too bad.

4

 Oct 23, 2016 at 03:27 PM Ben Says:

Interesting to hear someone from YU...An institution which covered up abuse for decades and just recently admitted to all those allegations.

5

 Oct 23, 2016 at 03:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Oh please, Margo became a multimillionaire through his business Torah Temimah Inc. He had a vested interest in covering up these allegations. BTW there were other employees who were not very kosher either. Too bad it had to come to this because this could have been settled in the 80's if Margo would not have threatened boys not to come forward to a Bais Din convened for this matter. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Too bad we overlook the true erliche yidden who are holding up this world.

6

 Oct 23, 2016 at 04:56 PM Anonymous Says:

A just wondering how all the money will help the victims....are they going to donate some of it to child abuse causes?

7

 Oct 23, 2016 at 05:02 PM Money from donations Says:

In decades past a relative of mine was a major donor to Torah temimah. It is horrifying that the donations that he gave which helped establish the school ultimately end up paying for this type of abuse. It would be more appropriate if the administration because of their 25-year cover-up and Rabbi kolko personally pay this and not take the money from people that gave money leshem mitzvah.
Based on what I have read over the past decade it seems like nobody from the esteemed yu establishment should be commenting.

8

 Oct 23, 2016 at 05:04 PM Heeb Says:

Adter they pony up the cash they should cut off his testicles

9

 Oct 23, 2016 at 08:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Esther Says:

Hopefully the law will pass but the Catholic Church and Agudah lobby on the same side on this issue claiming it will bankrupt religious schools. That's too bad.

The Catholic Church is no longer lobbying against this. It is just Agudah fighting against this law.

10

 Oct 26, 2016 at 12:52 AM jack-l Says:

I am not sure that i am reading this right The D.A cuts a deal with this pervert kolko ...no jail time and no requirement to register as a sex offender. So what punishment did he get. Wonder if Charles Hynes would be so lenient if it was his child that was abused ?
Then the yeshiva two years later settles for 2.25 mil compensation etc.( for 2 demeanors) As a sign of regret and teshuva the yeshiva,three years later , has paid them a paltry $100,000, owes them 2.1million and then forces the lawyers for the abused to file papers with the goyish courts.again . All while kolko is out and about... if it wasnt so tragic it would be insane.

11

 Oct 26, 2016 at 05:05 AM Anonymous Says:

Who asked this MO'nik to shtip zich arayn here? The same stuff could take place in YU!

12

 Oct 26, 2016 at 02:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
jack-l Says:

I am not sure that i am reading this right The D.A cuts a deal with this pervert kolko ...no jail time and no requirement to register as a sex offender. So what punishment did he get. Wonder if Charles Hynes would be so lenient if it was his child that was abused ?
Then the yeshiva two years later settles for 2.25 mil compensation etc.( for 2 demeanors) As a sign of regret and teshuva the yeshiva,three years later , has paid them a paltry $100,000, owes them 2.1million and then forces the lawyers for the abused to file papers with the goyish courts.again . All while kolko is out and about... if it wasnt so tragic it would be insane.

You happen to be very wrong on your assessment of what happened here. Most complaints that reached the DA office were beyond Statute of Limitations. Those cases that did end up in court - there was interference with testifying, so there could not have been a conviction. The plea bargain was the best deal possible, and the charges were not those that result in being registered or incarcerated. No back room deal to exonerate him. This settlement is newsworthy, but does not adequately compensate anyone for anything. This situation was mishandled by all long ago. Kolko should have been tried and convicted decades earlier. Regret? Teshuvah? Who cares about that? Meanwhile Kolko circulates, while there is no better place for him than prison. Yes, tragic and insane.

Kolko bears massive responsibility, and should be paying for all the damages, therapy, etc. for all victims. Margo should pay up, too.

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