New Haven Rabbi Sentenced To 20 Years In Abuse Case

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Rabbi Daniel Greer

NEW HAVEN (VINnews) — Judge Jon Alander has formally sentenced Rabbi Daniel Greer to 20 years in state prison. Greer was accused of repeatedly abusing students at his Norton Street boarding school.

Greer was sentenced Monday morning in State Superior Court at 235 Church St. Judge Alander stated his hope that the sentence would serve as a powerful message to other victims who have previously been afraid to come foreward and out their abusers, particulary within the Orthodox Jewish community.

Greer’s originally scheduled sentencing date was delayed, as his lawyer alleged that the state intimidated defense witnesses. However on November 20, Judge Alander declined to allow a new trial, paving the way for the sentencing to move forward.

Greer reportedly sat in court and covered his forehead with his hand while listening to testimony. He declined to make a statement in court, as his lawyers plan to file an appeal.

As the Judge was anouncing that the sentence would include priosn time, a court marshal was cuffing Greer’s hand behind his back. Greer’s face reportedly turned red and he began shaking.

The judge ordered Greer go directly to jail, rather than remain free on bond, because he considers Greer to be a flight risk. Alander said Greer is facing the “cold realization” that at 79 years old he will likely be spending the rest of his life behind bars.

“Why does society view these crimes as particularly deplorable? Why have they garnered such significant media and public attention? Because they involve a colossal violation of trust,” Alander said, as reported by newhavenindependent.org.

“When, as parents, we send our children to school and take them to houses of worship, we entrust the leaders of those with the care of our children. We share an unspoken promise in understanding that our children will grow and prosper under their tutelage. When a teacher or religious leader breaks that promise, they betray that trust. It is both unexpected and deeply disturbing.”

“It is important that a statement be made, to be heard by others in positions of authority who might be tempted; to be heard by the victims of sexual abuse who may find some solace in it,” Alander continued. “The Talmud teaches that there is hope for a man who is capable of being ashamed. It is my hope that someday you will truly feel ashamed for your actions and thereby embark on the road to redemption.”

Greer’s victims testified and told their stories throughout the trial.

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61 COMMENTS

  1. I hope that the truth comes out on appeal.

    I don’t know any of the people involved, but from what I’ve read, over the years, the alleged victim gave R’ Greer various positions of honor (kibbudim”), which make it difficult to give credence to his allegations. He designated R’ Greer to be a witness (“eidus”) at his wedding, and also honored him to hold his child (“sandek”) during his son’s circumcision ceremony.

    Halachically, if the rabbi had sexually assaulted the alleged victim, he’d be disqualified as a witness, and the wedding would be invalid.

      • Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, Siman 34
        סעיף א
        רשע פסול לעדות…
        סעיף ב
        איזהו רשע, כל שעבר עבירה שחייבים עליה מלקות, ואין צריך לומר אם חייבים עליה מיתת בית דין, לא שנא אם עבר לתיאבון לא שנא אם עבר להכעיס.
        הגה: עבר עבירה שאין בה מלקות, פסול מדרבנן (ר”י נ”ב ח”ד).
        סעיף ג
        היתה העבירה שעבר מדרבנן, פסול מדרבנן.

        • It is obvious that that is only if it was בפרהסיה, in the open. Otherwise anyone could do something privately and will disqualify anything they did even Generations later.

          • You need two kosher witnesses to testify that at that time he was a Rasha, otherwise Beis Din will not consider it. We don’t have that here. BUT, the single witness himself, from his prospective the man is a Rasha, and shouldn’t have used him as an eidus or honored him. Thus @IsraelReader is correct in questioning the timing.

          • “Halachically, if the rabbi had sexually assaulted the alleged victim, he’d be disqualified as a witness, and the wedding would be invalid.”

            I read the above to mean if he had sexually assaulted specifically the accuser.

          • If the alleged victim was truly molested by this person, then he would not ask his molestor, a “rasha”, to serve as a witness for his marriage.

        • you could say the same thing about a mechallel Shabbos or a fraudster. Besides the fact that in many teshuvos it states that other kosher eidim at the chuppah are still witnesses in the event there is a problem with the designated witness.

        • That’s not how an appeal works. The appeals court can not re-decide the facts of the case unless they find the verdict was so off base that no reasonable jury would find that way. I doubt that’s possible here. Usually, all an appeals court can do is decided whether there were errors made during the trial that could have reasonably affected the outcome, and if so, then they can order a new trial.

    • Have you ever even spoken to a victim of molestation? Do you not understand the concept of grooming? When I was 10 or 11, I was attacked by an older “friend” who forced his hand down the front of my underpants while I struggled against him. Sorry not sorry for being so graphic but my point is that even though he did something so egregious and horrible, I still him a friend for over 15 years afterwards – until I started to actually think about what happened and get flashbacks… saying he wouldn’t have honored him at his wedding when he manipulated him as a kid is akin to saying women deserve to be raped when they don’t dress the proper way.

  2. The judge stated, “When, as parents, we send our children to school and take them to houses of worship, we entrust the leaders of those with the care of our children. We share an unspoken promise in understanding that our children will grow and prosper under their tutelage. When a teacher or religious leader breaks that promise, they betray that trust. It is both unexpected and deeply disturbing.”

    I find this statement missing something important. Our clergy, including practicing rabbis, mechanchim, etc. are entrusted in maintaining our children’s safety. They have not just failed to protect them, but they themselves were the perpetrators of the most horrible forms of crime.

    Does anyone think that 20 years is enough?

  3. I have read transcripts of the trail. The testimony was very damning. But as is usual in these cases, there was no “proof” other than the victims testimony. But the various accounts seemed to jive with each other. What also came out in court is that Greer was a dynamo. He single handedly built the orthodox Jewish community of New Haven. I don’t think the community can recover from this. That community is bound to deteriorate and disappear.

    One lesson we could take from this, if Greer can be guilty of these things, anybody can.

    • What community in new haven dud he build?
      Lubavitch is the community in new haven not Greer
      Even 10 years ago when I was in new haven, lubavitch was bigger than greer

    • Just because he wrote letters to Yated and Hamodia does not mean he built New Haven for the Frum Community. In fact some would argue he took it down. (although Chabad today is flourishing in New Haven)

      When I moved out of New Haven mid 2000’s I predicted Danny would one day lend up in jail. The funny thing was this was not reason. He did so many things wrong.

      If you ever davended in his Shul/Yeshiva it was a bit cult like. He did things that simply put were not normal. True he dressed the part but he was an entirely different person on the inside. Danny Greer was an extremely smart person. He used his brilliancy for the wrong reasons.

      Please note do not think for a second this makes the Frum community look bad. Danny was not fond of the Brooklyn Rabbonim establishment. He thought he was smarter and better then all of them.

      If you do not believe me ask some of the members of the Motzes Gedolah Hatorah who were familiar with this individual. He fooled a lot of outsiders but you needed to be on the inside to see what kind of Rasha Danny was.

  4. I find it very troubling that someone can be put behind bars for 20 years based on the testimony of the victim itself, without any other proof. anyone can accuse, and anyone can be accused. and you cannot prove a negative!
    Our Holy Torah states that you cannot convict someone based on an “Eid Echod”, especially not on the Eidos of the victim itself.

    “One lesson we could take from this, if Greer can be guilty of these things, anybody can”

          • Halachically, we don’t convict anyone on one person’s say so.
            על פי שנים עדים יקום דבר

            See also Pesachim 113b
            טוביה חטא ואתא זיגוד לחודיה ואסהיד ביה קמיה דרב פפא. נגדיה לזיגוד. אמר ליה: טוביה חטא וזיגוד מינגד? אמר ליה: אין, דכתיב: ‘לא יקום עד אחד באיש’ ואת לחודך אסהדת ביה – שם רע בעלמא קא מפקת ביה

            There was an incident where Tuveya sinned with immorality, and Zigud came alone to testify about him before Rav Pappa.
            Rav Pappa instructed that Zigud be lashed.
            Zigud said to him: Tuveya sinned and Zigud is lashed?
            He said to him: Yes, as it is written: “One witness shall not rise up against a man” (Devarim 19:15), and you testified against him alone. You have merely given him a bad reputation.

          • You are off base. The principle means that one person can testify to the permisibility of something. For example, they are trusted to say it is kosher, or a woman can legally marry. To punish someone, you always need 2 winesses.

      • Eid echad neeman b’issurin

        That’s only
        1) bnogia kosher or treif etc.. or
        2) Because of aguna, chazal was mekal for an isha to remarry, partly because they knew that if the husband does return alive the woman’s kids are mamzerim and she needs to divorce both husbands etc….. Therefore the chachimin said and isha will be ” dika uminsva” (loosely translated we trust that she will be extremely cautious and do her own searcher prior to remarrying)
        3) to me machyaiv the other party a shevua in money disputes but not to incriminate.

        I am not getting involved in this case. But just trying to weed out your am hartezas

    • Greer’s defense does not have to “prove” a negative. All they had to show was that the witness was not credible or that his story has enough holes in it that there is A REASONABLE DOUBT that Greer is guilty.

      • That’s to establish a misa case and after hasra’ah. This is prison which beis din always had the discretion to impose. You don’t need two eidim for someone to be designated a rodef. Also, in Sanhedrin (81b) beis din used the kipa. See also drashos HaRan parshas Shoftim who sanctions governmental justice in the absence of beis din so that criminals don’t run rampant.

        • That has nothing to do with Eid echoed neman biisurin. When beiser din was sure of guilt but there was a technicality to get the guy off on an offense requiring the death penalty, they used an indirect method to bring about his punishment.

  5. I have no clue what this man really did or didn’t do. If he did it he deserves this and more. if he didn’t its a sad day. I d think that in general we need to better protect all sides. We need to place strong guidelines on rabbbeim and community leaders whereby if one follows them, its both nearly impossible to hurt a child g-d forbid and it would be a clear proof protection that if accused one can point to that guideline and say look this is proof its not me.

    Things like a rebbe never in a room alone with a boy etc….

    The aguda should sit down and think this thru. it for the rebbe benefit too

    • Agreed. I know of two Rabbis that could have avoided secular legal punishments had other Rabbis who had heard reports intervened sooner. Obviously for the victims’ sake but it would have given the offending Rabbis a chance to find a position in Kashrus or editing Jewish books and away from kids.

      • We need to step back to even befroe that occurs. They did start making rules for sleep away camps but we need more. It protects all sides. I believe that at times kids and especially disgruntled adults can make up stories. Yet at other times they are saying the truth. I have no way of knowing who is right. Unfortunately the courts are hasty to believe the alleged victim due to the severity of the case and the fact that it has been pushed under the rug for too long so now they are overzealous the other way. On the other hand the frum olim and the vatican are guilty as well.

        Best protection for all sides, strong fences before hand

  6. An open letter to the Jewish media:

    I see an “Olam Ho’fuch” in the general omission of Jewish reporting on the civil and criminal conviction of a former Yeshiva principal and educator. Let’s not be confused. It is not Loshon Horah or Chillul Hashem to report criminal activity; it is criminal not to report it. It is not sinful to use the word, “molester”; it is sinful to commit molestation.

    Daniel Greer is guilty of abusing his power over his students and taking advantage of many innocent children. Multiple victims testified about his extended evil behavior of over a dozen years. He never proclaimed his innocence, instead pleading the fifth amendment again and again. In one inadvertent outburst, he implicated himself in open court. His entire community, including closest family, have distanced themselves from him since his crimes became public.

    Most of the time it is prudent to be silent. Sometimes it is necessary to speak out. Sefer Chofetz Chaim speaks multiple times about a case exactly like this one, (כלל ד-ז, ד-ס”ק ל”ג, ח-ז, י-י, י-ס”ק ל’ ) concluding that there is no prohibition of speaking or believing Loshon Horah; no obligation to rebuke the sinner or judge him favorably. On the contrary, it is an obligation to speak out: לפרסם את החנפים מפני חילול השם.

    Why the silence? Many publications are family oriented and hesitate to sully their pages with such doings. Nevertheless, as Torah journalists you publish many things out of a sense of obligation rather than preference. If readers cannot separate the divinity and truth of Toras Hashem from evil individuals who appear to be righteous, we have a problem bordering on bankruptcy.

    If we continue to sweep these horrific problems under the rug and make believe they didn’t happen, they will continue to happen. It is disappointing and frightening that somebody who taught Torah in a Yeshiva high school used his power to molest his students. Perpetrators and those who watched silently, must know that their crimes will be publicized, and they will be humiliated and punished. Victims must know that the Jewish community cares about them and stands with them. The Torah aggressively publicizes the misdeeds of our greatest ancestors so that we learn from those failings. For this same reason, the conviction of Daniel Greer should be publicized.
    Daniel Greer destroyed his victims’ innocence, his own family and the families of these children. We should learn this lesson once and not again and again. Let’s eradicate this shameful behavior from our community.
    Your courageous publication of this letter will not solve the problem. However, it will ensure that the conversation begins and continues to provide every single parent and child with age appropriate information. Children must feel comfortable reporting any uncomfortable behavior and have their report taken seriously. While it is very hard for schools to “early detect” such problems, they should make sure that educators do not have the ability to be in “Yichud” with students, no matter their gender.
    Break the cycle. We may be held accountable for not preventing repeat occurrences when we choose to remain silent.

    • I agree 100% with Avrohom Meir Gluck’s posting, and I congratulate him for standing up to the phonies on this site who allege that the accused ” could do no wrong, and did not wrong”. Every time this problem surfaces, we have the holier than thou crowd, who come out of the woodwork, and allege that because someone is ostensibly frum, they can do no evil, and are essentially being railroaded. However, to show their hypocrisy, if it was a gentile accused of doing that to one of our community, the same hypocrites, would want to have that perpetrator tortured. It is about time that everyone realizes that these kinds of individuals, as frum as they may appear to be, do exist in our communities (sexual perverts, sexual abusers, pedophiles, etc.). For too long, these incidents have been swept under the wrong, and the victims are made to feel that they are the guilty party.

  7. Mr. Greer was charged and convicted by a State criminal, i.e. not halachic, court. What the halacha says here is therefore irrelevant. He was convicted by a jury. Anything more to say?

  8. All the chachumim who think this man is innocent and that “the truth” will come out on appeal:

    First, as someone said, that isn’t how appeals work. Second, the transcripts of the civil and the criminal case are all public record, and I’ve read some of them. The testimony is damning. The victim testified, and told police, that Greer had a distinctive scar on his groin in an area that would not have been visible unless naked, and red pubic hair. He also testified that Greer undressed and dressed in a very unusual way- he kept his shoes on while he took off or put on his pants. The police obtained a warrant to inspect and photograph Greer’s body, which was introduced into evidence. The two detectives witnessed exactly what the victim described- the scar, the red pubes, and the strange undressing procedure. And before you come up with some ‘klugshaft’ like “maybe the victim saw it at the mikvah”, the victim never went to the mikvah with Greer.

    The man did it, and he deserves every second and more in jail.

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