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New York - YU Rabbi Steps Down Says He Mishandled School Abuse Claims

Published on: July 1, 2013 01:45 PM
Last updated on: July 1, 2013 06:19 PM
By: AP
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Rabbi Norman LammNew York - The chancellor of a Jewish university in New York City said Monday that he mishandled allegations of sexual abuse at the university’s high school decades ago.

In a letter announcing  his retirement from Yeshiva University, Rabbi Norman Lamm said his response to the allegations was “ill-conceived.” Lamm is stepping down amid an ongoing investigation into accusations of abuse by alumni of the all-male high school that’s part of the university.

Lamm’s decision to retire was based on an agreement reached three years ago and was not connected with the abuse investigation, the university said. Lamm was the university president from 1976 to 2003 before he became chancellor.

Nearly two dozen men claim they were sexually and physically assaulted by administrators and teachers at Yeshiva University High School from 1971 to 1989.

In December, Lamm told the publication The Jewish Daily Forward, which broke the story of the abuse allegations, that he never notified the police of the complaints about sexual abuse. Lamm told the newspaper that when the school received a complaint about a staff member, he allowed the staff member to “go quietly.”

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“At the time that inappropriate actions by individuals at Yeshiva were brought to my attention, I acted in a way that I thought was correct, but which now seems ill-conceived,” Lamm wrote in his retirement letter.

He added, “True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong.”

A private law firm hired by the university, Sullivan & Cromwell, is investigating the allegations by the men.

“It is anticipated that the investigation will be finalized and a comprehensive report will be released by Sullivan & Cromwell in the coming weeks,” the university said in a statement Monday. “We will address the findings publicly once the report is issued.”

Attorney Kevin Mulhearn, who represents 22 plaintiffs alleging abuse, said his clients came forward to report the abuse years ago but the school turned a blind eye and did nothing.

Mulhearn said he is conducting his own investigation and has advised his clients not to speak to the media until a lawsuit is filed. He said the rabbi’s statement was a good first step in the right direction.

“But Yeshiva University, as a whole, has to make amends as an institution,” Mulhearn said. “Not just one man. Because there are many high-level administrators who had knowledge of misconduct and did nothing.”

More than 6,000 students study at the university’s campuses in New York City and Israel.



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Read Comments (42)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 01, 2013 at 01:49 PM Facts1 Says:

A man of valor!

2

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:02 PM DRSLZ Says:

He should be applauded for his words of contrition.

3

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:08 PM mutti Says:

inspiring, this is what real leaders do, take responsibility

4

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:20 PM Anonymous Says:

In the 80s it was normal to cover these things up. Which by no means am I saying it was right. It was completely wrong! BH today it's becoming more and more normal that these terrible abuses are dealt w the authorities. At least I hope so!!

5

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:30 PM Yeshivabochur1 Says:

Rav Lamm knows how to conduct himself like a real talmid chochom and Manhig yisroel. Why can't any of our Manhigim do the exact same?

6

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:43 PM Anonymous Says:

I don't see ANYWHERE where it says Rabbi Lamm is steppind down BECAUSE of the abuse accusations. He is an elderly man, who served the Yeshiva well, it would be nice of other elderly Rabbonim would take his example and retire before they become incapacitated.

7

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:50 PM InsideOne Says:

For all those who said, when these allegations came to light, that there is no difference between the modern orthodox and the chareidim in this regard, here is the difference seen in the light of day - acceptance of responsiblity, contrition and accountability on the m.o. side, compared with denials, villifcation and intimidation on the chareidi side.

I know which side I'm on now - it's the one that still understands the concept of teshuva.

8

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:16 PM Insider Says:

Rabbi Lamm is a mentsch and is admitting his wrongdoing. Though he will not face any punishment, nevertheless, he is putting his mistake on-the-record. He is standing up tall, like our ancestor Yehuda, and admitting that he sinned.

9

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:30 PM Background Says:

Remember what Rav Gifter ZT'L said about Rabbi Lamm whit regard to Gays in YU...

10

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:36 PM Bochur Says:

Yomim Al Ymei Melech Tosif. A true kidush Hashem and role model for talmidei chachamim and jewish leaders.

11

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:39 PM Pops Says:

I hope this apology will go a long way to burnishing a reputation of a great leader and scholar..

12

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

I don't see ANYWHERE where it says Rabbi Lamm is steppind down BECAUSE of the abuse accusations. He is an elderly man, who served the Yeshiva well, it would be nice of other elderly Rabbonim would take his example and retire before they become incapacitated.

Why else would he step down? With all the controversy this has caused, his children and grandchildren spoke with him about how wrong he was in the past. He wouldn't want this terrible deed to happen to his own family members.

I applaud his strength and courage. May others follow in his footsteps and take responsibility if they covered up monstrous deeds. May the police arrest ALL of our abusers and may our kinder start to heal.

Amen

13

 Jul 01, 2013 at 04:27 PM volfie Says:

#6 is absolutely correct .Rabbi Lamm is approaching his father's age at death and following the advise of the Gemara about what one should consider about one's own mortality.Had there been a connection he would have resigned a long time ago.
He acted in the appropriate manner of law,halachah,and practice prevalent in the 1980's -before we fully understood these type of events and with no guidance in how to proceed.
As an alumnus,i will not sit back and allow his name and reputation to be smeared by anyone .
Had YU collapsed back in the 1980's for fiscal reasons , the survival of moderate,American jewish orthodoxy would have ceased to exist.No lawyers,MD's,Judges'\professors,engineers,teachers, accountants,business men with kipot on in the public sector and shomrei Torah and mitzvoth in mainstream positive American life.
By raising billion$ and providing scholarships he saved American Judaism
for those who were not part of the chassidish/yeshivish world. PERIOD.
THIS CAN NOT BE REFUTED.LET H ' AND HISTORY JUDGE.

14

 Jul 01, 2013 at 04:55 PM seichel Brosh Says:

Its time for the DA leadeship to step after recent news of their coverup for abuse in the public schools, news in jewish schools should not be as a cover for news in public schools

15

 Jul 01, 2013 at 02:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Another example of our Sheker-permeated society. He is not stepping down because of what he did in the 80's. He is retiring and reflecting.

But it does not matter. The truth is as irrelevant in this issue as it is in relation to racism, equal rights, and a host of issues that have been politicized and therefore - untouchable.

Dr. Lamn will be held up by the abuse-hystericals as a model and in distinction from the other rabbis who "endorse abuse." It is a lie that he is different, and it is a lie that anyone endorses abuse.

But lies are the new truths, so what to do?

16

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:16 PM Anonymous Says:

So hypocritical of you all. Because he is a modern left wing rabbi he deserves nothing but praise.
You guys make me laugh

17

 Jul 01, 2013 at 03:34 PM savtat Says:

If you read the entire report you will see that Rabbi Lamm is stepping down and at this time he was reflecting on the past. It takes a great man to reflect on himself. He has achieved much and brings honor to the Jewish People.

18

 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:13 PM AnonymousToo Says:

That is the right thing to do. I went to YU and Rabbi Lamm is a very upstanding person. I respect him very much for doing this.

19

 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:33 PM REALIST Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

I don't see ANYWHERE where it says Rabbi Lamm is steppind down BECAUSE of the abuse accusations. He is an elderly man, who served the Yeshiva well, it would be nice of other elderly Rabbonim would take his example and retire before they become incapacitated.

Moshe Rabeinu did it in last week's parsha!!

20

 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Background Says:

Remember what Rav Gifter ZT'L said about Rabbi Lamm whit regard to Gays in YU...

I'd love it if you'd refresh everyone's memory.

21

 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:50 PM RobertS Says:

Glad he has stated teshuvah but it is a shame he didn't didn't do the proper thing originally. The right wing of modern orthodoxy has its head up its ivory tower tuchis and seems to have drifted away from Torah u'maddah

22

 Jul 01, 2013 at 06:29 PM Reb Yid Says:

Reply to #13  
volfie Says:

#6 is absolutely correct .Rabbi Lamm is approaching his father's age at death and following the advise of the Gemara about what one should consider about one's own mortality.Had there been a connection he would have resigned a long time ago.
He acted in the appropriate manner of law,halachah,and practice prevalent in the 1980's -before we fully understood these type of events and with no guidance in how to proceed.
As an alumnus,i will not sit back and allow his name and reputation to be smeared by anyone .
Had YU collapsed back in the 1980's for fiscal reasons , the survival of moderate,American jewish orthodoxy would have ceased to exist.No lawyers,MD's,Judges'\professors,engineers,teachers, accountants,business men with kipot on in the public sector and shomrei Torah and mitzvoth in mainstream positive American life.
By raising billion$ and providing scholarships he saved American Judaism
for those who were not part of the chassidish/yeshivish world. PERIOD.
THIS CAN NOT BE REFUTED.LET H ' AND HISTORY JUDGE.

"Rabbi Lamm is approaching his father's age at death and following the advise of the Gemara about what one should consider about one's own mortality"
The gemara doesn't say that one should resign from the yeshiva when he approaches his father's age of death. Are you saying all leaders should resign before they die?

"Had YU collapsed back in the 1980's for fiscal reasons , the survival of moderate,American jewish orthodoxy would have ceased to exist.No lawyers,MD's,Judges'\professors,engineers,teachers, accountants,business men with kipot on in the public sector and shomrei Torah and mitzvoth in mainstream positive American life."
LOL that statement is so over the top that it almost sounds like you're belittling YU by absurdly over-praising it. Most frum Jews in the professions did not go to YU.

23

 Jul 01, 2013 at 06:54 PM oldnews Says:

Another good person at YU taking a hit for left-wing Richard Joel. Only recently Rav Yona Reiss was sent away because he is too right for Joel. And what about YU's frivolous dismissal of Rav Mordechai Tendler to satisfy their RCA compatriots? Who will be next? Rav Hershel Schechter?

24

 Jul 01, 2013 at 07:10 PM Anonymous Says:

Every time I have to see another story about physical or sexual abuse in Judaism, I just want to find a hole to crawl into and forget the future. This is just insane.

25

 Jul 01, 2013 at 07:11 PM AShaC Says:

Rabbi Lamm has inadvertently revealed that he does not represent daas Torah, for daas Torah is infallible, while the good Rabbi admits he is only human.

26

 Jul 01, 2013 at 07:15 PM um..yeah Says:

Reply to #13  
volfie Says:

#6 is absolutely correct .Rabbi Lamm is approaching his father's age at death and following the advise of the Gemara about what one should consider about one's own mortality.Had there been a connection he would have resigned a long time ago.
He acted in the appropriate manner of law,halachah,and practice prevalent in the 1980's -before we fully understood these type of events and with no guidance in how to proceed.
As an alumnus,i will not sit back and allow his name and reputation to be smeared by anyone .
Had YU collapsed back in the 1980's for fiscal reasons , the survival of moderate,American jewish orthodoxy would have ceased to exist.No lawyers,MD's,Judges'\professors,engineers,teachers, accountants,business men with kipot on in the public sector and shomrei Torah and mitzvoth in mainstream positive American life.
By raising billion$ and providing scholarships he saved American Judaism
for those who were not part of the chassidish/yeshivish world. PERIOD.
THIS CAN NOT BE REFUTED.LET H ' AND HISTORY JUDGE.

You could have complimented Rabbi Lamm without smearing charedim.
I am willing to bet he would prefer it without the smear.

27

 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Yeshivabochur1 Says:

Rav Lamm knows how to conduct himself like a real talmid chochom and Manhig yisroel. Why can't any of our Manhigim do the exact same?

Your a fool firstly why didnt he step down the past 30 years? all of a sudden when he gets old and it is time for him to retire he comes up with this bubeh maseh? our Manhigim have done a great amount of tzorchai tzibur ect and they dont need to be at all ashamed from lamm

28

 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:37 PM chaim Says:

everyone applauds him for stepping down. " hero" "valor"
I don't see why his mistake 30 years ago affect his ability of today.
In contrary now he has more experience then then.

29

 Jul 01, 2013 at 08:11 PM NeveAliza Says:

Reply to #25  
AShaC Says:

Rabbi Lamm has inadvertently revealed that he does not represent daas Torah, for daas Torah is infallible, while the good Rabbi admits he is only human.

Following your line of "reasoning" Moshe Rabenu did not have Daas Torah since he too was infallible.

30

 Jul 01, 2013 at 11:18 PM CenterYid Says:

Reply to #29  
NeveAliza Says:

Following your line of "reasoning" Moshe Rabenu did not have Daas Torah since he too was infallible.

Aliza, I agree with you. To these people, daas torah is Rav Belsky and the other 9 rabonim who drove a family out of lakewood because they reported a child molestor to the police. Even though he pled guilty, not one of these "daas torah" had the cojones to apologize. Nowadays, Daas Torah means never having to say you're sorry.

31

 Jul 01, 2013 at 11:37 PM stamm Says:

Am i not getting it? where does it say he covered up etc. It also does not say he did nothing. he actually did do something he let them "go quietly" that means he did do somethiing..

32

 Jul 02, 2013 at 12:34 AM c Says:

Reply to #31  
stamm Says:

Am i not getting it? where does it say he covered up etc. It also does not say he did nothing. he actually did do something he let them "go quietly" that means he did do somethiing..

Yea, he did something foolish and inexcusable which he, other faculty and YU will now pay the price for.

33

 Jul 02, 2013 at 02:19 AM volfie Says:

#22 - it is obvious,but not to you,that he is resigning as per a three year old agreement, and failing health.And, where are your sources for who is who in the professions ?
#26 - from where in my comments do you erroneously conclude that I am anti-charedi ? .I live in a charedi community and have a compatible life-style.so stop the knee-jerk anti-charedi mantra.
YU and Rabbi Lamm are main pillars for American Orthodox Judaism and that does not denigrate other orthodox approaches !

34

 Jul 02, 2013 at 02:24 AM volfie Says:

a good choice to replace one with Rabbi Lamm's stature and erudition
would be Rabbi Lord Johnathan Sacks, who is retiring as chief rabbi of the UK- an intellectual giant in our times and most suitable..

35

 Jul 02, 2013 at 06:25 AM Chaim Eliezer Says:

There is nothing "modern" or "charedi" about honesty, integrity and a willingness to admit a mistake. Right now the former camp is looking pretty good.

After having exonerated a molester of teenage girls, Rav Willig and Rav Blau called in the press to the largest auditorium available to publicly ask mechila. When his son was found to have behaved inappropriately, Rav Moshe Tendler did not object when the RCA voted for expulsion--I'm not sure he even abstained. And recently when a prominent member of the Beis Din of America was found not to have laundered money or molested little boys, but did shtick with false email addresses, his career as a dayan was over.

36

 Jul 02, 2013 at 08:25 AM DavidCohen Says:

Reply to #25  
AShaC Says:

Rabbi Lamm has inadvertently revealed that he does not represent daas Torah, for daas Torah is infallible, while the good Rabbi admits he is only human.

Please tell us that this was an attempt at sarcasm. Please. We're desperately trying to cling to the hope that the lemmings are a minority.

37

 Jul 02, 2013 at 09:23 AM Chaim Eliezer Says:

Reply to #30  
CenterYid Says:

Aliza, I agree with you. To these people, daas torah is Rav Belsky and the other 9 rabonim who drove a family out of lakewood because they reported a child molestor to the police. Even though he pled guilty, not one of these "daas torah" had the cojones to apologize. Nowadays, Daas Torah means never having to say you're sorry.

"not one of these "daas torah" had the cojones to apologize"

Not true. Rav Dovid Epstein issued a heartfelt public apology.

38

 Jul 02, 2013 at 09:59 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
oldnews Says:

Another good person at YU taking a hit for left-wing Richard Joel. Only recently Rav Yona Reiss was sent away because he is too right for Joel. And what about YU's frivolous dismissal of Rav Mordechai Tendler to satisfy their RCA compatriots? Who will be next? Rav Hershel Schechter?

I don't know how he is taking a "hit" butI think you are right about Rav Reiss and Rav Tendler.

39

 Jul 02, 2013 at 10:21 AM AShaC Says:

Reply to #36  
DavidCohen Says:

Please tell us that this was an attempt at sarcasm. Please. We're desperately trying to cling to the hope that the lemmings are a minority.

I thought that much was obvious though, considering the blind idiocy of the "lemmings", as you call them, I guess I can understand why you were misled. Admittedly, I know little of Rabbi Lamm, but he has shown himself to be a leader of men, and one we can learn from. I fail to see how we have anything to learn from those who are so holy that they see themselves as infallible.

And #29, I'm sure I agree with you in principal, but your logic is a bit flawed, unless you meant to say fallible...

40

 Jul 02, 2013 at 11:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Ok. Things were different many years ago but why didn't he say anything five years ago?

41

 Jul 02, 2013 at 02:38 PM CenterYid Says:

Reply to #37  
Chaim Eliezer Says:

"not one of these "daas torah" had the cojones to apologize"

Not true. Rav Dovid Epstein issued a heartfelt public apology.

Thank you for letting me know. I had not heard about it. 1 down, 9 to go. Although belsky said he still feels that yk is innocent.

42

 Jul 02, 2013 at 03:39 PM CenterYid Says:

Reply to #37  
Chaim Eliezer Says:

"not one of these "daas torah" had the cojones to apologize"

Not true. Rav Dovid Epstein issued a heartfelt public apology.

Chaim, Thanks for filling me, I had not heard. I know Belsky won't apoligize, as he already said that he still believes YK is innocent. I will be glad to address him as Rav when he asks for mechila. I guess the other 8 are taking their time.

43

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