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38 former students charge in lawsuit that Yeshiva University H.S. employed child predator for decades


Yeshiva University High School in Manhattan. (Mariela Lombard for New York Daily News)

The ex-principal of Yeshiva University High School was a depraved child predator who targeted the kids of Holocaust survivors, telling them to “not add to their parents’ suffering by telling them about his assaults," a new lawsuit filed by 38 former students charges.

Rabbi George Finkelstein, who rose to principal at the all-boys school starting in 1971, lured boys into private encounters in which wrestling escalated into sexual abuse, the suit charges. At least three of his alleged victims were the children of Holocaust survivors, according to the suit. Many of the accusers were identified only as “John Doe.”

“John Doe 31's father was a Holocaust survivor and Finkelstein cravenly used that information to ensure John Doe 31's silence and submission to his predations, as Finkelstein repeatedly told John Doe 31 that he would be in big trouble if he ever informed anyone about Finkelstein’s depraved acts and that John Doe 31's father, who had already ‘suffered enough,’ would be shamed if he learned about Finkelstein’s abuse," the suit reads.

A previous lawsuit filed against the school by some of the same accusers was tossed due to the state’s statute of limitations on claims of child sex abuse. The new suit is filed under the state’s Child Victims Act, which gives accusers a one-year window to bring claims that were previously outside the statute of limitations. It includes allegations against other abusers from the 1950s to 1980s.

“A number of boys were children of Holocaust survivors and Finkelstein was so depraved that he would single out these boys, know that they were vulnerable, sexually abuse them and then tell them ‘don’t you dare ever tell your father or your mother because they’ve suffered enough and you don’t want them suffering any more," said attorney Kevin Mulhearn, who filed the suit.

Barry Singer was one of many accusers who said Finkelstein would initiate abuse under the pretext of checking to see if he was wearing Tsitzit ritual garments.

“He had to put his hand down my pants regularly, which he did, he groped me in the office but this also went on in the hallway with the kids watching my fellow students," Singer said, “and the idea that the school didn’t know this was going on in the hallway is just preposterous."

An employee of Yeshiva University High School said it would not comment on the suit. Finkelstein, who is believed to be in Israel, could not be reached.