New York – Joint Statement from Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah‏ Regarding Statutes of Limitations For Civil Claims


    New York – Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah – The National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, upon consultation with their respective rabbinic leaderships, respectfully submit this statement regarding legislative proposals to amend existing statutes of limitations for civil claims, including claims against schools and other communal institutions, based on allegations of child sexual abuse. We do so only after much serious thought, after weighing all relevant arguments and for the sole purpose of protecting the most fundamental interests of our community.

    Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah fully acknowledge the horror of child sexual abuse and the devastating long-term scars it all too often creates. Our rabbinic and lay leaderships are acutely aware of the emotional trauma and damage caused by the perpetrators of such abuse. Our hearts go out to their victims, and we share in their pain. We realize that for too long many victims have suffered alone. We are committed as a community to do whatever we can to root out perpetrators of child abuse from our schools and other communal institutions, and to help victims on the road to healing and recovery.

    Indeed, in recent years, as awareness has increased and sensitivity has been heightened regarding the incidence of sexual abuse and its severity, both in the broader society around us and in our community specifically, Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah have taken a number of concrete steps to help ensure that Jewish schools, extra-curricular youth programs and summer camps implement policies and procedures designed to protect children against such abuse. Our organizations have also supported legislative efforts to furnish such protection, including the recently enacted legislation in New York authorizing nonpublic schools to screen all prospective employees through the state’s fingerprint checking system.

    With respect to the proposed amendments to existing statutes of limitations, Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah fully understand that the trauma of abuse is often so great that young adults may not be emotionally prepared to file claims against their abusers within the traditional limitations period. Strict adherence to the existing statutes of limitations could thus operate to preclude certain legitimate claims and protect perpetrators of abuse. Our organizations would therefore have no objection to legislation designed to give victims of abuse greater recourse against perpetrators. Nor would we object to extending statutes of limitations for criminal proceedings against perpetrators.

    What Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah must object to, however, is legislation that could literally destroy schools, houses of worship that sponsor youth programs, summer camps and other institutions that are the very lifeblood of our community.

    To take perhaps the most problematic example of such legislation, bills have been introduced in New York and other states that would create a one year window during which any civil claim based upon child sexual abuse could be brought, even against schools and other communal institutions, regardless of how long ago the incident is alleged to have taken place. One could envision a scenario in which a senior citizen might choose to bring a claim against a school for an incident that allegedly occurred over half-a-century ago when the claimant was a child. The fact that the alleged perpetrator may have passed on, or that the administration of the school may have changed several times since the alleged abuse, or that the school no longer has any records or insurance policies dating back to the time the abuse allegedly occurred, or even any records of the individual ever having attended the school, would be of no moment whatsoever under the proposed bill. The current school administration, entirely ignorant of what may or may not have occurred so many years ago, would be forced to defend the school in a court of law, incur the high expenses of legal fees and diversion of human resources, and face potentially crippling financial liability.

    It is important to recognize that Jewish schools are independent entities supported wholly by parental tuition and fundraising. Therefore, the burden of litigation expense or legal liability for ancient claims would fall squarely on an entirely innocent group – the current parent body. Needless to say, in today’s perilous financial climate, as many parents are unable to meet even their basic tuition obligations and schools struggle to remain fiscally viable, this burden would be extremely difficult to bear, and could ultimately lead to school closures.

    Stated simply, legislation that would do away with the statute of limitations completely, even if only for a one-year period, could subject schools and other vital institutions to ancient claims and capricious litigation, and place their very existence in severe jeopardy. Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah most vigorously oppose any such legislation.

    We must continue to seek out ways to protect our precious children and help eradicate molestation and other forms of abuse. We must also redouble our efforts to help those who have suffered the horrors of child abuse obtain the healing they so desperately need. However, we dare not bring down our most vital communal institutions in the process.

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    1. I suppose I’m forced to agree, despite being slightly nauseated by their false empathy. Aside from their historical apathy, didn’t these organizations just recently argue against mandatory screening of school personnel?

      • I don’t agree. Victims whose cases were covered-up, or victims of threats to keep quiet should not go after the yeshivos or organizations involved… they should go after the rabbonim and administrators who did it PERSONALLY.

        Bankrupting yeshivos will not make things any better for anyone and does not punish the criminal molesters or their protectors who should be punished.

        The important thing here is get it out in public who these people are so we all know, and then go after them PERSONALLY for their individual actions.

    2. hmmm, doesn’t this wonderful organization run a summer camp? I think this summer camp employed a fine fellow who R”L was forced to plead guilty to “some” crime.
      Might the Agudah be worried they’re about to get hit with lots of lawsuits?

    3. 1, They should, at this moment, be preparing their legal team and not this ridiculous and self serving drivel.
      2, The alternative that they propose is; if the records are lost then the school, administration and all involved can claim lost records and be absolved?

    4. Does this mean that; by removing the statue of limitation, those responsible running the school at that time and/or covering up the incidents will also be able to be held personally liable w/o statue of limitation? Maybe not the institution, at least those who did not prevent this to happen.!!!

    5. I don’t think a judge or jury would allow an “ancient” case to go forward. If one reviews the result of the California 1 year suspension of the statute of limitation one would find NO “ancient” cases which survived the first hearings in court. Only those fairly recent instances of recurring abuse against multiple victims were allowed to go forward. For instance, If Framowitz’s were to file suit against YTT and Margolis it would go nowhere in a hurry. However, if the court hears of the systemic abuse perpetrated by K for tens of years and the vehement refusal to act upon the information on the part of the administration, you are looking at a classical case that WOULD pass muster in court.
      It appears the Aguda geniuses have gone the way of the Catholic Church and vastly exagerated the effect of this proposed legislation. Looks to me like they are primarily concerned with the fate of one or 2 notorious mosdos who spent every effort and energy to harass the victims they now claim to be so concerned over.

      FACE IT: If the victim’s never get this chance to sue for pain in suffering our “dear leaders” will never see to it that the victims get the expensive therapy they so desperately need. A victim left with lifetime issues, typicaly does not have the resources to afford the healing process facilitated by private and experienced therapists. Fact is noone has provided for the victims any hope for releif other then third tier therapists funded by the city or state.

      It is time the victims stood up against the travisty of apathy and put in end to this by suing the shysters for what they are worth.

      No Catholic Diocese even came close to bankruptcy and other then perhaps YTT, no jewish school will fall.

      The press release from aguda looks to me like another Avi Shafran hack job.

    6. This wole issue is about money for the lawyers and impossilbe issue. Yes not only will it hurt the yeshivas but it will also hurt the ones that are bringing the lawsuit people will worry if the family or party has healed properly after so many years. People will be concerned and not my child no way. there fore this a double Jeapordy. Today everyone finds out every thing and to say protect the abused is baloney especially if they are suing the people.

    7. This statement profoundly affects my emunas chachamim. The fact that something happened long ago does not matter when it is fundamentally evil otherwise where is the statute of limitations on Nazi War Crimes? Or 65 year old claims by survivors?
      That school may be bankrupted is unfortunate but a yeshiva has an obligation to parents and to its students which in an abused child’s case it failed in an unforgivable fashion—-How icould this statement consistent with Daas Torah?

      • very well said
        the victims unfortunately suffer a lifetime for the abuse they suffered, y on earth should someone not be held responsible? who cares how many years later it is..and im sure those victims would be “mochel” any money they might make for this abuse not to have taken place

        let the abusers be aware u cant just do whatever u want anymore WE WILL SMOKE U OUT OF YOUR LITTLE HOLE!!!!

      • you didn’t put your head to the words

        what they are saying the school as a non for profit org can’t afford open claims for lifetime don’t compare it to a nazi that himself did stuff or to the germans who still have millions from the jewish kadoshim

        when someone goes against the yeshiva its going against the public against the parents and children of the school

        and by the way ask a shala before puting a lawsuit against a school if this is legal

        • Wron wrong wrong! The actual criminal is the school bosses who failed to protect the children from a known sick employee. Who would want such a school around for another day? These moisdos should be burnt to the ground like an Ihr Haneedachas! Anyway, no school ever closed because of this type of case.

          • I agree with you. So go after them individually! Bankrupt them. Maybe newer cases will emerge from this and put them behind bars. That does not mean we should allow the yeshivos themselves to just collapse. What will smaller communities do? Send their kids C”V to public school? Be rational. Take down the individuals.

        • The comparison to the liability of war criminals is limited to the notion that there are some acts so vile that as a society we cannot let these things pass.
          Further Yeshivas by not taking prompt action
          To ensure that 1 time is too many are breaching their responsibility to their parent body and to their students. Certainly, one cannot honestly believe that those who personify what Torah is all about could objectively tolerate such behavior? Additionally the appearance of Negia, self-interest bias by the Leadership of both organizations.

          Lastly, you are absolutely right that availing oneself of American Justice system is a not a carte blanche and must be done in consultation with Rabbinic authority.
          However what was particularly painful is the appearance that Gedolei Yisrel are putting their institutions ahead of the interests of the students served by those institutions.
          How does this enhance the honor or TORAH OR BE Mikadash Shaim Shamyim?
          Please believe me the absolutely last thing I would want to do is bash Gedolei HaTorah but while demanding perfection at all times is unfair and wrong but when a position is articulated which hints at chilull Hashem cannot be allowed to pass without question.

    8. These are self-serving statements. There is no where in halacha where there is a statute of limitations on investigating a crime. There are also strong public policy reasons to consider. It is shocking but revealing that only now, with the threat of a one-year period wherein old claims can be brought, that these organizations express their concern for the victims. I strongly doubt that Rav Elyashiv shlita or similar gedolim from Eretz Yisroel, who do not have vested interests, were consulted.

    9. I agree with Agudath Israel. We should be out for justice, not revenge. Justice is going after the individuals responsible for these sick acts. Revenge is shutting down the entire Yeshiva because of one persons sick acts 50 years ago.

      • If so why doesn’t agudah suggest allowing a years window to sue the individuals who covered up or refused to stop the perp? That would bankrupt the guilty parties and NOT the schools!

        The answer is that the agudah has a vested interest in continuing to shut down the victims. The moetzes goons have enough blood on thier collective and individual hands to bankrupt all of them, the mosdos that feeds them and the privledged life they live and hopefully bankrupt the agudah itself.

        The shocking apathy these rishoim exhibited when told of the molestation in our communities is identical to what the Catholic diocese did. Never have we seen such a bunch of mushchosim prancing around like tzaddikim.

    10. sooo…. when the money starts running out , all of a sudden their “community” schools. When I was in HS it was always construed to our family as it being our obligation and privilege to go to Jewish schools and give them money for shoddy education. I guess they always know best about how to run their schools until the money starts drying up or they risk public humiliation.

    11. I disagree with the Agudah on this. If we don’t hold people/institutions responsible for the past then they won’t be cautious in the future. Therefore we must allow this.

    12. The only surefire way to prevent future abuse is to make people and institutions accountable via civil lawsuits. With the current statute of limitations this is not possible. Protecting the children could be made compatible with preventing the bankrupting of yeshivas by introducing tort reform in the form of caps on awards for pain and sufffering. Of course it is unlikely that Sheldon Silver, a beneficiary of not having tort reform, would support capping tort awards.

    13. If these schools are truly public institutions, they should publish audited financial statements. Agudah approves the extension of statute of limitations for criminal cases? Surely their legal counsel has informed them that you can not extend a statute of limitation because of the constitutional ban on ex-post facto laws, which, by the way, does not apply to civil cases.

      • Hence the proof that this press release is the work of Avi Shafran and the clowns of the moetzes. Lets see, I can name 3 members of that rat hole who are directly responsible for enabling molesters to continue abusing students.

        • so unvail the names, shame them, let the show begin, you see vin cant do it then its slander plenty read the comments u can churn up alittle drama… the fact than you havent named them already make you look like you are protecting them – don’t wanna do that?!

      • Ex post facto does apply to civil cases. Where in Article 1 section 9 does it make such a distinction? Also see Clader v. Bull from 1978. I am not gonna hire you as an attorney.

        • First of all, Clader v. Bull is a 1798 case. You are only about 180 years off, and you misinterpret it as well. For a discussion of when the prohibition against an ex-post facto law applies see Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland v. Superior Court, 128 Cal.App.4th 1155 (2005) (upholding a window provision extending a statutue of limitations in a civil action). Sorry, you are flat out wrong. (You can not afford my fees anyway).

    14. When the statute of limitations window was lifted in California, old cases never made it past first base, however, over 300 active predators were finally caught as a result. It is highly improbable that “innocent parents” will have to fund flimsy legal battles in NY either, if the Markey bill is passed and the SOL is temporarily lifted. We need to save our innocent children and not worry about tarnishing our image in the process. This is our chance to really make a Kiddush Hashem, by not acting like the Catholics did, ending our many cover-up efforts, and addressing the problem courageously.

      • I could not agree with you more. However, it is important that victims do not destroy our yeshivos.

        I beg every victim to vigorously go after every molester/rapist and anyone who protected them, regardless of who they are… rebbaim, teachers, administrators, members of a particular beis din. May every one of them spend a day in prison for every minute that you have had to live with the pain they caused. However, we risk a complete collapse of our community if all of the yeshivos go down as well. Please do not destroy the institutions. The imprisonment of their leaders will bring about the changes that will keep this from happening again. Save the vengeance for the criminals.

        This will be very difficult for the victims to relive. Know that most of the community is 100% behind you. You are protecting the lives of the children today and in our future generations.

        • What makes you think all the yeshivas are going down if this bill passes? Only those yeshivas that knowingly protected/harbored/enabled abusers would be liable.

          • In theory, but not in practice. When it comes to litigation, juries are interested in giving people money, not paying attention to the law or whether the defendant is actually at fault. So in practice most of these cases will be settled in the millions of dollars by the various mosdos.

          • We already know that a few of the “major” yeshivos will be impacted by these lawsuits. These institutions are needed. We cannot afford for them to just go bankrupt and close their doors. It is the molesters/rapists and those who protected them that should be punished. By bankrupting yeshivos, all we will do is punish the children who are there now.

        • You are horribly mistaken if u think any shul or yeshiva will close as a result of this legislation. No institution had to close in California or other states with similar legislation. Besides, dont you think a school like torah temima SHOULD close after so many years of abuse and coverups?

    15. aguda claiming they actually care about children after fighting legislation for years

      to me it seems that they realize a law will pass and they need to hope they get the lesser bill

      i think if a yeshiva covered up a molestation case they should be closed

    16. Here is a tough question to anyone who is still a nonthinking frummie: Of all your high and mighty holy men, name one friggin name, just one name of a godol who stood up to the abusive system all these years. Who made a career wipping the tears of the poor molested and raped souls. NAME ONE!

    17. There is no statue of limitations on murder. This new legislation would be equating molestation with murder. That is an idea that is long overdue.

      And I disagree with Torah Umesorah- what does the down economy have to do with murder? I think holding the schools and shuls accountable is EXACTLY what is needed …until it hurts someone’s pocketbook, no one is going to stick their neck out for the victims.

    18. Let us examine this issue a bit more closely. Many of these extreme comments are shaky at best.

      The fact that lawsuits will bankrupt and close institutions, yeshivos, summer camps, etc. is a reasonable expectation. That is to say, that even if any of these defendants are not found guilty, the legal expenses will be through the roof. Major expense, even if no justice is done.

      The other side is that many of these old cases will be wasted efforts in the court system. When matters are left to a he said – she said, there is inadequate evidence to support a ruling. This is the natural “statute of limitations” that exists regardless of legislation. In contrast, many victims of abuse and molestation are either not ready, not healthy, or lack the memory to share their tormenting experiences until after considerable time has passed.

      In the frum community, there is considerable resistance to going the court route, even if permitted by the dictates of the halachos of mesira and arkaos. There is automatic publicity, and the dynamics that make this unfavorable are too endemic in the community to be changed. Legislation will not change these universal ways of thinking.

      I am all in favor of legislation that eliminates statutes of limitations completely. Why should there be a law that prohibits me from seeking justice just because of my age or the time passed since the event? Halacha does not recognize such a concept, and saichel seems to say exactly the same thing. It is enough that that old cases will not succeed in getting past the first hearing. As for the separate issues of civil lawsuits versus criminal prosecution, I have trouble recognizing the value of making the perpetrator pay money for the crimes. If things are handled well, the molester/abuser is probably out of a job, or if he still has it, it is low paying anyway. Money won’t fix anything. Punishment won’t change a thing. It won’t protect other potential victims. Perhaps the focus on keeping perpetrators away from the public or out of our yeshivos can fare better.

      The role that legislation can play in truly correcting the situation needs to be more carefully examined. The comments here do not convince me that we are clear about what the pros and cons are.

      • No. 45 says “I have trouble recognizing the value of making the perpetrator pay money for the crimes.” I strongly disagree. While money can never make a victim whole, it can help compensate for the loss. The victims may be living in poverty because the abuse led to depression, alcohol use or other problems that prevented them from being a productive member of the workforce. The victims may also need years of expensive counselling and therapy. Also it’s another poke in the eye of the victim to see the perpetrator living a life of comfort and ease. Finally, seeing others having to pay money makes some people stop and think about the consequences of their actions. Since under our legal system, we can’t give 40 lashes to the perpetrator, money damages is the next best thing.

      • the point of the bill is to NAME THE MOLESTERS so that they can be kept away from people. if the bill doesn’t pass, or if the lopez bill, which doesn’t name molesters, is the bill that passes, all those molesters WILL continue to be on the streets and WILL continue to molest!

    19. Today is a sad day for klal yisroeal and tora jews worlwide……………………………..Aguda made their decision based on financial issues rather then protecting our children.Yesterday i joined hundrends of heimishe fammilies and victims in albany at a press confrence supportiing the markey bill..they came even there was many camreas focused on their sad and pained faces……………..Aguda we know has been putting pressure on all those who are seeking justice including our own assemblyman dov hikind…………….The truth is that aguda has fought against all bills that can help us they even initally fought against the mandatory screening for private schools.,only giving in after strong pressure from parents…..DAVID ZWEIBEL you are lying all the gedola hatora are not agreeing with us letters agreeing with aguda on theese issues.lets ask rav elishavshlita and othe rabbonim.
      what you have done is sold out our chidren by joing the catholic league and protecting the very small institutions like tora temimah YOU ARE NOT THE DEFENDOR OF TORA AND YOU DO REPRESENT TORAH

      DAVID ,IF URE CHILDREN WERE HURT OR MOLESTED WHAT WOULD YOU DO ??????? we are asking hashem for guidance to get rid of the moronic leaders who applaud madoff and embarase and twist the way we must respond to theese horrific issues with a strong emuna to hashem

      • I think you should fast again tomorrow for mocking Gedolei Yisroel. I have news for you that Rav Elyashiv is of one mind with the Agudah, not with you. That Psak from him which is flaunted constantly, was a personal Psak not a blanket Psak, and nothing can be further then the truth that Rav Elyashiv and I’m sure all Gedolei Yisroel, be they on the Moetzes or not, agree with Rabbi Zweibel, period. Moronic leaders? Moronic activists!

    20. I believe the Agudah sent out a well thought out statement in line with “Daas Torah”.While I feel terrible for every single victim,and I feelthat every perpretator should be ostrasized and punished, the bottom line is that we must follow the dictates of our Gedolim. Making light of them because you disagree, sends a terrible message to our youth and creates a chilul Hashem.

      • It is called the herd effect. First animal walks off a cliff and they all follow suit because instead of independent thinking (of which the torah requires us to do) we instead look towards the aXX of the animal in front and BINGO! off the cliff we go. I must admit that I am laughing at how these fakers and manipulators have taken thousands for a hard and fast ride and you morons are cloeless. These shkootzim will even tell you to eat chazer on yom kippur and you will still follow them. Serves you all right for letting your brain shrivel up and die. As for those leading the herd…………….hell is too cold for all of you.

      • Of course they thought through every word in the press release! Why would fraudsters stop the sham now? They probably spent hours on pulling off this latest piece of work on us.

    21. These “Rabbi’s” are missing a vital part of their anatomy! They are no different then the Catholic Church in encouraging the continuous COVER UP!!!!!!!


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