Jewish Daily Forward
By Irwin Kula
Published August 29, 2013, issue of September 06, 2013.
On August 26, the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, hired by Yeshiva University to look into allegations of past abuse at the university’s High School for Boys, finally concluded its eight-month investigation and released a report detailing its findings. As one of the high school students abused in the early 1970s and as one of the more than 145 people interviewed in the investigation — though not party to the impending multi-party lawsuit against Y.U., now $380 million — I am disappointed, though not surprised, by the report. Eight months, 6,300 hours of investigation, more than 145 interviews and the best that Y.U.’s administration and board could come up with was three paragraphs that said many people were abused at many Y.U. institutions but they could not give any details because of “pending litigation.” Of course some people are happy with this and some people are angry.
Kevin Mulhearn, a lawyer for the group of students that filed the lawsuit, called the report, as one would expect, “a gross disappointment,” while those abused students, willing to be quoted, were justifiably “shocked.” As someone who spent more than two hours being interviewed and rehashing what was so locked away that I never even mentioned it to my wife of 30 years, nor to my brother, who also attended the Y.U. high school and unbeknown to me was similarly abused — I can attest that it is shocking to have your traumatic experience summarized in a few legally cool paragraphs. Y.U. President Richard Joel expressed in an equally expected way the school’s “deepest and heartfelt remorse,” and his hope that this “recognition” brings “comfort and closure.” This was an appropriately lawyerly response, with a concluding flourish referring to Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days season and forgiveness — as if this process has been anything like Maimonides’s wrenching prescription for genuine teshuvah, repentance.
There we have it — a report that offers nothing we don’t already know. (Though I want to make clear that the lawyer who interviewed me was thorough, extremely professional, compassionate and honest.) The report confirms that a part of Y.U.’s high school (and university) culture was predatory and that until 2001, the school’s administration simply did not do what any decent and morally evolved authorities are supposed to do: protect and ensure the safety of its students. No surprises here, and actually quite sad.
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