“The question of homosexual relations by teachers or principals… was not that clear, and it was not that significant relative to other things that we were dealing with,” Rabbi Norman Lamm said. Rabbi Macy Gordon went through the boy’s medicine cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Chloraseptic. He pulled back the boy’s bathrobe again and told him, “You have simanim [signs],” and sprayed Chloraseptic on the boy’s pubic hair. He then sodomized the boy with a toothbrush. Rabbi George Finklestein wrestled with boys, trying to kiss them as he rubbed his erect penis into their unwilling bodies.
Rabbi George Finklestein's case has been well-known to those of us who cover child sexual abuse for many years.
Finkelstein was the principal of YU's high school in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The reason I didn't do an exposé on him was that I require at least one victim who comes forward using his real name and allows his real name to be published, and corroborating evidence of some kind – usually court documents or other victims who will sign affidavits that they, too, were abused. And that wasn't possible as recently as two years ago in this case.
But that changed, and the Forward has a devastating exposé of Yeshiva University's mishandling of Finkelstein's case and the case of Rabbi Macy Gordon's – who was active about the same time Finkelstein was and who has scholarship named after him even though YU knows he was sodomizing kids in its high school.
Rabbi Noramn Lamm is – correctly it seems – portrayed as a callous man with little concern for the safety of the children in his care. And Lamm's recent statement to the Forward about "homosexual relations" is truly offensive.
“The question of homosexual relations by teachers or principals… was not that clear, and it was not that significant relative to other things that we were dealing with,” Lamm told the Forward. Those other things Lamm was dealing with was YU's precarious financial situation.
Child rape, sodomy and child sexual abuse is not homosexuality – it is a form of rape. Would Lamm say the question of heterosexual relations by teachers or principals was not that significant if Stern College girls had been raped by YU faculty?
Even Richard Joel, who headed the OU's investigation into the Rabbi Baruch Lanner sex abuse coverup come out looking bad.
Joel became YU's president shortly after completing that OU investigation, and was allegedly approached by Mordechai Twersky, a victim of Finkelstein,asking for the Finkelstein situation to be dealt with. Joel allegedly did not answer Twersky.
At one point Lamm – YU''s chancellor – sent a messenger to Twersky in Israel and allegedly threatened him.
While the Forward's piece doesn't report this, YU's rabbis were – as always – AWOL.
And Lamm admits that YU didn't ever report any sexual predator on its staff to police. Instead, it let them leave in peace, and go on to teach elsewhere:
…Norman Lamm, who was president of Y.U. from 1976 to 2003 and is now chancellor, indicated in an interview December 7 that he knew about some of the allegations and chose to deal with them privately. In one case, a suspected abuser of high school students was allowed to leave for a position as dean of a Florida school.
No law enforcement officials were ever notified, despite “charges of improper sexual activity” made against staff “not only at [Y.U.’s] high school and college, but also in [the] graduate school,” Lamm said. “If it was an open-and-shut case, I just let [the staff member] go quietly. It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry.”
Asked whether in the case of staff assaulting minors the abuse should have been reported to police, Lamm said. “My question was not whether to report to police but to ask the person to leave the job.”…
YU's house needs to be cleaned immediately, and the generations of students who venerated Lamm and so many other deeply flawed YU figures need to realize that their heroes are not only flawed – they are deeply, offensively, duplicitous and awful people.
Update 2:31 pm CST – I forgot to add that both Gordon and Finkelstein are on the National Council of Young Israel Advisory Board. Young Israel is a very troubled organization to begin with, but having Finkelstein and Gordon on its Advisory Board is, too say the least, problematic even for Young Israel. At the very, very least, both men should be suspended until Young Israel can satisfy itself that the allegations have enough merit. (From what I know about Finkelstein's case, this shouldn't take more than a few hours.) And then it should remove them permanently.