Five women sued Rabbi Baruch Lanner of New Jersey, USA, for repeated physical and emotional abuse, including sexual abuse, also arguing that the Jewish institutions to which they complained did nothing about it.
“During Lanner’s 30-year career as a Jewish youth leader and approximately 15-year career as director of yeshiva schools, he was able to sexually, physically and emotionally abuse dozens of underage girls and boys,” the lawsuit states, according to to local media outlet NJ.com on Dec. 3.
It adds, “Rabbi Lanner’s predatory behavior was well known within Orthodox communities.”
Now the plaintiffs are demanding financial compensation, for their pain, suffering and medical expenses, according to attorney Brian Kent, of Piscataway, N.J. The plaintiffs are claiming damages for their pain, suffering and medical expenses.
All of them are claiming emotional, physical or psychological problems generated by the alleged abuse, including difficulties in intimate relationships.
Some said they suffered from isolation in the Jewish community or from leaving their religion for the same reason. Lanner’s abuse occurred when the women were between the ages of 12 and 16 in the 1970s.
Two of them had previously reported him to the police, which led to his conviction in 2002. The sentence was six years, of which he was imprisoned for three years and served the other three years on probation.
These lawsuits came shortly before the November 30 deadline given by provisions that allowed a two-year window for filing lawsuits, regardless of how long the alleged abuse had been going on.
A letter signed by three senior rabbis of the defendant institutions stated that they are hiring lawyers to represent them in the case, Back in 2000, the national weekly The Jewish Week had published the story “Stolen Innocence,” which caused Lanner to resign from the National Synagogue Youth Conference.
The story alleged how Lanner kissed, fondled and beat teenage girls and physically abused the teenage boys in his care. Lanner’s case is not the only one involving abuse perpetrated by rabbis against Jewish children.
In late August, a special rabbinical court convened by five leading haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbis ruled that two brother deans of a leading Jerusalem Talmudic school sexually abused their students for years.
On trial were Rabbis Yitzhak and Moshe Tufik, who committed “gross and obscene transgressions,” and were banned by the court from having any contact with the youngsters.
Despite being admonished, the brothers did not listen, and “even now these severe acts continue,” the court described, prohibiting the parents from sending their children to these schools. It also urged the victims to sue them.
“It is totally forbidden to send yeshiva students to Be’er Yehudah Yeshivot and those who help enroll students there, and even more so those who assist in attempts to cover up the facts, are guilty of a sin too heavy to bear, for they bear the sins of many by bringing kosher students to the lowest pit,” the rabbis wrote.
The Tufik brothers “constitute a grave danger to yeshiva students,” likewise “scores of students over several years have been seriously harmed by them through gross and obscene transgressions that should not be put in writing.”