Editor’s note: In an effort to keep the Yeshiva University community up-to-date on the ongoing independent investigation into allegations of past abuse, YU News will continue to share all official statements with the public in the post below.

UPDATED Statement from the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees (January 16, 2013)

In light of recent inquiries, the Board of Trustees of Yeshiva University would like to clarify the scope and nature of the investigation currently being conducted by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, with the assistance of Lisa Friel and TM Protection. Sullivan & Cromwell has been given unfettered access to all Yeshiva personnel, documents, correspondence and other records, including raw computer data, that could be relevant to its investigation. Sullivan & Cromwell has also been given the unrestricted authority to pursue any leads that may shed light on all matters related to the investigation. The Board of Trustees is fully aware that it will be judged on the manner in which it conducts this critical and sensitive matter and, in that connection, will, as always, seek to meet, if not exceed, the best possible practices employed by institutions that have confronted similar circumstances. We expect the findings of the investigation will be communicated to the public following completion of the investigation.

UPDATED Statement from the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees (January 9, 2013)

Since the onset of abuse allegations first reported in The Jewish Daily Forward, the Board of Trustees of Yeshiva University has been committed to ensuring a full and completely independent investigation into these claims from the past and YU’s policies and readiness to respond in the present and future. The law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell was tasked with conducting the investigation because of its outstanding reputation and expertise in leading independent efforts like this for respected corporations and institutions around the world. The Board will only be satisfied with a broad and far-reaching investigation. Sullivan & Cromwell’s past work demonstrates a true commitment to delivering exactly that, and already they’ve taken an extra step to strengthen the investigative efforts by engaging Lisa M. Friel, a national abuse expert, as an adviser. The Board of Trustees is resolved that the finest investigators will complete their work in the proper, independent manner that a matter this important demands.

At this time, the Board believes that it is best to permit the independent investigation to take its course, however, the Board expects that at the conclusion of the investigation, the Special Committee will be in further communication with the public.

UPDATED Statement from President Richard M. Joel (December 24, 2012)

In an effort to continue to examine the allegations of past abuse recently reported in the media, the Yeshiva Board of Trustees has established a subcommittee to oversee the matter. The law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell has been retained to conduct a full and independent investigation of the allegations as well as to review our current policies and procedures. The investigation will be led by Karen Patton Seymour, co-managing partner of Sullivan & Cromwell’s litigation group. In addition, Sullivan & Cromwell has engaged nationally recognized abuse expert, Lisa M. Friel, to assist and advise them in connection with the investigation and to provide specialized knowledge and expertise with regard to abuse allegations and prevention.

We continue to invite anyone who may have suffered harm and would like access to the University’s counseling resources to contact us in confidence by emailing yucounseling@yu.edu. In addition, for those wishing to contact Sullivan & Cromwell and/or Ms. Friel directly, please feel free to do so by emailing YU@tmprotection.com or calling 646-445-7610.

UPDATED Statement from President Richard M. Joel (December 19, 2012)

Yeshiva University continues to examine with concern the allegations of past abuse recently reported in the media. A subcommittee of the Board of Trustees is working with the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell as outside counsel, who is assisting us in investigating the allegations and consulting with nationally recognized specialists in this area to review our policies and procedures.

We continue to invite anyone who may have suffered harm to contact us in confidence. By emailing yucounseling@yu.edu, counseling resources of the University will be made available to you, and I welcome the opportunity to personally and confidentially discuss any issues with anyone who may have suffered harm. I can be reached at president@yu.edu or (212) 960-5300.

Statement from President Richard M. Joel in Response to Allegations of Past Abuse (December 13, 2012)

Dear Yeshiva University Community,

The safety and well-being of our students is Yeshiva University’s highest priority. The inappropriate behavior and abuse alleged by The Forward to have taken place in the past, and described in statements attributed by The Forward to Dr. Lamm, are reprehensible. The actions described represent heinous and inexcusable acts that are antithetical both to Torah values and to everything that Yeshiva University stands for. They have no place here, in our community, or anywhere at all. The thought that such behavior could have occurred at our boys’ high school, or anywhere at this institution, at any time in its past, is more than sufficient reason to express on behalf of the University, my deepest, most profound apology.

At this institution we continually review and strengthen policies and practices addressing the safety of all members of the Yeshiva family. We are vigilant and responsible, and always will be. While we cannot change the past, I can say with absolute certainty that Yeshiva University has implemented, and will continue to maintain and enforce the policies and procedures necessary to assure a safe environment. Such policies and procedures, established in consultation with outside experts, include:

  • At each and every one of YU’s schools, including Yeshiva University High School for Boys, there is zero tolerance for abuse or sexual harassment of any sort, of students, faculty or staff. If, despite our best efforts, they should occur, procedures exist both to swiftly deal with the perpetrators and aid the victims. These policies are posted on our website and are communicated directly to all employees annually.
  • Members of our own faculty and staff, at every level, undergo training designed to increase sensitivity to these issues, including mandatory training for new hires concerning sexual harassment.
  • Students are encouraged to report any incidents of abuse to the University administration and should feel safe knowing that their security is our number one concern. A hotline exists to enable confidential reporting of such complaints. The hotline number is 866-447-5052.

Yeshiva University’s many programs in this area for rabbis, teachers, care providers, community leaders, parents and children widely impact the broader Jewish community:

  • The Comprehensive Abuse Response Education (CARE) program at YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership works with day schools around the country to keep children safe in their schools by addressing abuse issues with research, training and consultation.
  • YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration offers a NYS workshop and certification in preventing and identifying child abuse.
  • Members of our faculty advocate on behalf of victims of child abuse; consult and advise around the world, including with child protective service organizations, and in communities across the spectrum; and present educational programs designed to prevent abuse both to parents and children.
  • A curriculum developed at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future called “Life Values and Intimacy Education: Health Education for the Jewish School,” is now taught in grades 3-8 in many day schools around theUnited States.
  • CJF offers continuing educational programs to rabbis and rebbetzins, including a certificate program, to help them recognize and address all forms of abuse in their communities.
  • Before embarking on service learning and experiential education missions where they will work with children, students are taught to recognize warning signs of child abuse and to refer concerns to appropriate authorities.
  • All candidates for ordination at YU’s affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary are required to complete a course that addresses the role of rabbis in preventing and identifying child abuse. Additional related coursework, including simulation, is required for students planning to become congregational rabbis or chaplains.

Anyone who may have suffered harm is invited to contact us in confidence. By emailing yucounseling@yu.edu, counseling resources of the University will be made available to you, and I welcome the opportunity to personally and confidentially discuss any issues with anyone who may have suffered harm. I can be reached at president@yu.edu or (212) 960-5300.

Thank God, communities across the nation are well aware of these issues today, and hopefully address them appropriately. At Yeshiva University we are committed to our sacred obligation to ensure that best practices are set and followed on our own campuses, and to play a key role in the broader community in keeping our most precious resource, our children, safe from harm.

Sincerely,

Richard M. Joel

President and Bravmann Family University Professor