Landmark victory in sex abuse cases

New Jersey Jewish News

NJJN Editorial
October 27, 2016

The financial settlement by a Brooklyn yeshiva of two sexual abuse cases marks an important milestone in the battle to expose such assaults and encourage victims to come forward despite strong social pressures to remain silent.

Yeshiva Torah Temimah agreed in the fall of 2014 to pay $2.1 million to two former students who accused Rabbi Joel (Yehuda) Kolko, 70, of molesting them when they were six years old, according to a recent New York Post story. The settlement became public knowledge when papers filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court indicated that the yeshiva had defaulted on its schedule of payments. The lawsuits were filed in 2006 and 2007.

Numerous allegations of sex abuse had been made against Kolko, dating back some 25 years. In 2012, in a deal with Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney at the time, Kolko pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment but did not receive a jail term and was not required to register as a sex offender.

The two separate lawsuits that came to light last week claim that Rabbi Lipa Margulies, the head of the yeshiva, was aware of allegations for more than two decades that Kolko sat boys on his lap and touched their private parts, but kept him on as an elementary school teacher. According to the lawsuits, yeshiva officials threatened the families of victims to ensure their silence.

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