Prestigious New York Jewish school apologizes for ignoring molestation reports
In 1974, Ramaz staff learned that Stanley Rosenfeld had engaged in sexual misconduct with children while working at another institute but did not alert anyone
Former staff at the Ramaz School in Manhattan failed to act appropriately on reports they had received in the 1970s of molestation by a former teacher, the Jewish day school said.
After Stanley Rosenfeld left Ramaz in 1974, administrators learned that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with children while working at another school in New York’s suburban Westchester County, according to a report published Thursday by a law firm hired by Ramaz to investigate the school’s conduct. But the school at the time did not alert third parties about what it had learned.
While the investigation found “no direct evidence that anyone at Ramaz knew of Rosenfeld’s misconduct when Rosenfeld was hired or while Rosenfeld was employed at Ramaz,” it concluded that administrators could have later taken action while Rosenfeld was still employed at a Jewish summer camp or when he interacted “with the larger Ramaz community.”
The investigators could not confirm second-hand accounts that Rosenfeld was terminated as a result of misconduct with Ramaz students.
Parents of at least one alleged victim said they met with Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who headed Ramaz at the time, on the issue but he did not alert authorities, according to testimonies heard by the investigators who compiled the report. Lookstein told investigators working for the school that he does not recall a parent telling him of abuse of any Ramaz student.
Lookstein is one of the country’s most prominent Modern Orthodox rabbis. He said he had heard of abuse by Rosenfeld after the educator was no longer working at Ramaz, which is one of the New York area’s most prestigious Modern Orthodox day schools.
The alleged victims of Rosenfeld mentioned in the report were not Ramaz students. They were affiliated with Westchester Day School, located near White Plains, about 20 miles north of the Ramaz campus on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the report said.
The investigators who wrote the report “received reports that Rosenfeld sexually abused at least three boys” affiliated with Westchester Day School.
Ramaz and another Jewish school where Rosenfeld had worked in the 1970s, the Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy, known as SAR, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, conducted investigations this year into his conduct following complaints by former students who came forth.
“We offer our deepest apologies to the victims and their families, and openly acknowledge all the ways in which we have erred in cases of abuse,” Philip Wilner, the board chairman at Ramaz, wrote in an email accompanying the report.
Wilner said the school today has a “zero-tolerance policy for any inappropriate behavior between a Ramaz employee and a student” and that it conducts extensive background checks on employees and other adults who interact with students.
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