Why didn't Seattle's haredi-created and haredi-run Torah Day School do a background check on "Rabbi" Yaakov (Jordan ) E. Murray, the teacher who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly sexually abusing 6- and 7-year-old girls, before it hired him? Perhaps this is the answer…
Updated 6:30 am CDT 5-13-2013 to reflect the following correction: Yaakov Murray's father does not teach history at Torah Academy in St. Louis Park, MN. He taught history at the Bais Yaakov school there.
"Rabbi" Yaakov (Jordan ) E. Murray is from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, the suburb of Minneapolis where the Orthodox and haredi community is centered.
His mother is the secretary of the big Agudath Israel of America- type haredi synagogue.
His father taught history at the Minneapolis Bais Yaaakov.
Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, the community's Agudah-linked rabbi, took was a many decades old community day school and forcibly converted into a something very much like a haredi heder.
The Murrays were very close to Lieff, who now heads an Agudah style synagogue in Midwood, Brooklyn, and who is a regular speaker (and a good one) at Agudah functions.
It is unclear whether Murray has a criminal arrest record. A Seattle newspaper reported that he did. But that report was based on court documents filed by the prosecutor, and the prosecutor later said that the claim that Murray had a criminal record was made in error.
And that may be true, or it could be that a previous arrest was expunged or Murray was minor and the records are sealed.
Even Murray's LinkedIn page, reproduced below, raises questions about a series of short term jobs with Jewish companies, 7 months here, 8 months there. Why?
But in this case, the school never did a background check and apparently never looked at things like that LinkedIn page. Why?
Because, I think, it considered Murray to be a hevramon.
The rabbi/principal of the Torah Day School, Rabbi Sheftel Skaist, is a hevramon, too. So is Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff and so is the rabbi who replaced him.
All too often, in that world a background check consists of a quick phone call to another rabbi to check to see if a candidate is qualified and safe to hire.
While there is nothing at all wrong with making that call, it should not be the only background check done.
But in this case, it was.
And no matter how this case plays out, that should never be allowed to happen again.
Related Post: Seattle Day School Teacher Charged With Child Sexual Abuse.