Unprecedented $2.1 Million Settlement by Yeshiva in Child Sex Abuse Settlement

Yeshiva Torah Temimah, a Jewish Orthodox school in Brooklyn, has agreed to pay two former students $2.1 million for alleged molestation when the boys were 6 years of age by a senior rabbi on the faculty of the school, reports the Forward.

This is the first known settlement of its kind by a Jewish day school. These are two rare cases in which children told their families about what they had suffered while they were still young. The families believed them and took action against the school in spite of strong resistance from the Orthodox community against airing such alleged charges publicly.

New York State statutes of limitations prevent alleged victims from filing a civil complaint after the age of 23, so most such lawsuits are simply dismissed, or never filed. Researchers report that most child sex abuse victims do not comprehend or yet have the capacity to act against whatever was done to them, often until well into adulthood, and after deadline has long passed.

Many ultra-Orthodox institutions, including the umbrella group Agudath Israel of America, along with the Catholic church, have resisted legislative efforts to extend this deadline for future victims. The religious groups object strongly to a provision that would give past victims who have missed the statute of limitations a one-year window to file a suit. New York has one of the strictest statutes of limitation for child sex abuse allegations in the country, the Forward reports.

Both of the students, in their lawsuits filed in 2006, maintained that Rabbi Yehuda Kolko had repeatedly molested them and that Rabbi Lipa Margulies had received previous reports about Rabbi Kolko’s conduct with them, along with earlier students for decades, yet had not taken action. For 25 years, the yeshiva received “multiple credible allegations of pedophilia” against Kolko,” the suits charged. The yeshiva covered them up and families who dared to complain were even threatened, according to the complaint.

Rabbi Yosef Blau is a spiritual adviser at Yeshiva University in Manhattan and a longtime advocate for victims of child sexual abuse. Rabbi Blau saw the settlements as a much belated positive development. “If word gets out, other schools will think twice, if they hear about abuse,” he said, reports the Forward.

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