A sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed by 38 former students against Yeshiva University High School in New York. The claims reference abuse that occurred when the men attended the school between 1953 and 1992, when they say that former principal George Finkelstein targeted them.
The claims against the school are part of the flood of sexual abuse accusations that have been filed in the weeks since New York’s Child Victims Act went into effect. The plaintiff’s complaint names Finkelstein, several other former faculty members, a dorm counselor, rabbis and teachers as abusers. Those accused of abuse are not named as defendants because they either could not be named or are living in Israel and cannot be extradited. The lawsuit names the school as the defendant based on having ignored the students’ accusations and pleas for help.
Accusers Say Principal Targeted Holocaust Survivors’ Children for Sexual Assault
In one of the more heartbreaking aspects of the filing, the plaintiffs say that Finkelstein specifically chose the children of Holocaust survivors for sexual abuse, saying that if they told what he had done to them it would “add to their parents’ suffering.” Explaining their charges of negligent supervision, negligent retention and negligent failure to provide a safe and secure environment, the victims recount telling school administrators what had happened and having no action taken. One man recalled that a rabbi and administrator had witnessed one instance of sexual abuse that took place in a hallway, but did nothing, while another went to the school with his father to report abuse, to no avail. The men who were abused say that they did not fully understand the impact of what happened until they became adults. One former student, Barry Singer, said, “These rabbis had such ultimate power in that school that the sense I had was that they could do anything they wanted to. There was no one to go to.”