Jeffery Herman, attorney for the plaintiffs in the civil cases against Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and Yeshiva Torah Temimah, was on Zev Brenner’s radio show tonight. Herman noted that one basis for the lawsuits was "fraudulent concealment" by Torah Temimah and others to protect Kolko and the yeshiva. He later noted that concealment was as bad as the worst of what he saw in the Catholic Church. But, Herman noted, it isn’t the same, because there is not a central authority like a diocese pulling the strings.
I’m not so sure. If you look at this timetable of Kolko’s crimes, you’ll note several coverups. You’ll also note many figures involved in these coverups play(ed) national roles with both Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah. I think both can and should be targets of civil suits, and I don’t see why criminal charges cannot be brought against their leaders, as well.
If you know a man is accused of abuse, not once but many times, and you let him alone with children nonetheless, that should reach the bar of criminal negligence. For example, when Rabbi Elya Svei allegedly refused to deal with Kolko’s abuse, he was the senior rabbinic figure in Agudah and in Torah Umesora, and made his decision for Torah Umesorah, the organization of haredi day schools and yeshivot. How much more central can you get?
The policy Rabbi Svei set down – which, it is alleged, was meant to protect TU and Agudah from lawsuits – endangered children. Some of those endangered children were later abused by Kolko, including a 6 year old boy in 2003. This is like an ongoing criminal conspiracy and, as such, should not be covered under the statute of limitations.
Can the gedolim be charged? I hope they both can be and are.