Yeshiva University Rejects Former Students’ Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Claims Citing Statute of Limitations

The former students from Yeshiva University high school filed a 148-page, $380 million sexual abuse lawsuit against former teachers from the 1970s and 80s on September 23rd, 2013 claiming sexual abuse and sodomy. Yeshiva University has rejected the sexual abuse lawsuit citing New York’s current 5-year statute of limitations.

According to the sexual abuse lawsuit, these students, and others, were victims of child abuse in the 1970s and the 1980s. The former students are asking for $380 million in damages, due to lifelong suffering from the abuse, including depression, substance abuse, attempted suicide, and other repercussions from their school days. The lawsuit lists specific teachers and faculty members in the lawsuit, including former Y.U. president Rabbi Robert Lamm, former vice-president of Y.U.‘s theological seminary Rabbi Robert Hirt, Rabbi Macy Gordon, and Rabbi George Finkelstein

( September 2013).

Yeshiva University’s rebuttal

According to reports by the Jewish Daily Forward ( ), the university is citing New York’s current law requiring that sexually-abused students file sexual abuse lawsuit claims before their 23rd birthday. The high school officials say they are no longer responsible for claims of sexual abuse from the 1970s and 1980s.

The lawyer filing the claim, Kevin Mulhearn, plans to argue that the statue of limitations is not applicable in this case, because Yeshiva University is suspected of covering up past claims.

Did Yeshiva University cover up past claims?

Attorney Kevin Mulhearn believes this case is still valid due to allegations that Y.U. covered up past attempts to expose sexual abuse. An article published in The Jewish Daily Forward titled “Student Claims of Abuse Not Reported by Yeshiva U” in December 2012 aimed to expose the past attempts of Yeshiva staff to cover up allegations of sexual abuse throughout the 1970s and 1980s ( December 2012 ). Mulhearn is using this article as basis for the current lawsuit’s validity.

New York’s sexual abuse laws regarding filing a sexual abuse lawsuit

Current New York law states that abused children typically have between one and five years from the date of abuse to file a sexual abuse claim for damages resulting from criminal sexual abuse. This means that children abused at age 18 while in high school have until their 23rd birthday to come forward and file a damages claim

( September 2013). Courts have waived this five-year limit in past cases. Mulhearn was able to win sexual abuse damages for 12 football students from Poly Prep Country Day School in December, 2012

( December 2012 ).

Proposed changes to the sexual abuse statute of limitations

Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey from New York has introduced a bill to Congress every year since 2005 to increase the statute of limitations on sexual abuse. The proposed changes would increase the limitations by an additional 5 years, and allow adults up to age 53 a one-year window to bring their abuse allegations to light. However, the bill has never been able to come to the Senate floor for the necessary voting process to pass the bill into law

( June 2012).

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