SAR Officials Knew of Abuse by Administrator

NY Jewish school officials knew of abuse by administrator who molested 12 students

SAR

 

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from SAR Academy’s principal, Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, in an email to JTA and the statement to JTA from the attorney for Rabbi Sheldon Schwartz.

NEW YORK (JTA) — Officials at a New York Jewish day school knew of allegations against an administrator who abused at least a dozen of the school’s students, according to an investigation. He was rehired a decade later.

The report, which was published Friday, found that Stanley Rosenfeld sexually abused at least a dozen students at SAR Academy, a Modern Orthodox school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Another teacher, Rabbi Sheldon Schwartz, was found to have acted inappropriately with at least four students.

Rosenfeld, a convicted sex offender, has admitted to molesting hundreds of boys throughout his life, including at SAR, according to the report.

JTA has reached out to Schwartz through his attorney seeking comment on the accusations against him.

T&M Protection Resources, an external firm with experience investigating sexual assault allegations, conducted the probe that examined allegations of child sex abuse by Rosenfeld, an assistant principal at SAR in the 1970s who also taught English there a decade later. The school commissioned the investigation in January, soon after learning of the allegations.

The firm interviewed nearly 40 witnesses, as well as both Schwartz and Rosenfeld. T&M was able to interview Schwartz, however, only before hearing allegations of his inappropriate behavior.

“We want to extend our most sincere gratitude to the individuals who came forward to report instances of inappropriate behavior and abuse,” SAR’s leadership wrote in an email sent Friday linking to the report. “We remain heartbroken that our alumni suffered abuse while in SAR’s care, but we also are deeply inspired by their bravery.”

The respective principals of SAR Academy and SAR High School, Rabbis Binyamin Krauss and Tully Harcsztark, wrote in the email that the school instituted a sexual harassment policy in 2014. The policy requires reporting credible allegations of sexual misconduct to law enforcement, as well as guidelines for reporting allegations within the school and investigating them.

In a separate email to JTA, Krauss wrote: “We strive to create a learning environment in which students feel comfortable coming forward with concerns or reports of misbehavior of any kind,” . “Nothing is more important than the safety of our students. If we were to learn of a report of abuse, we would work quickly to begin an investigation and ensure, throughout the process, that students are safe.”

SAR’s announcement of the inquiry in January prompted two other Jewish day schools that had employed Rosenfeld to launch their own investigations: the Ramaz School, an elite Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in Manhattan, and Westchester Day School, in New York City’s northern suburbs. Ramaz published its external investigation in August, which found that administrators learned of Rosenfeld’s abuse after he had left the school but failed to act on the information.

Rosenfeld, now 84, was convicted of child molestation in 2001 for abusing a boy while employed at a Rhode Island synagogue. The Forward, which has investigated Rosenfeld’s abuse in a series of articles, discovered that he is living in a nursing home and is a registered sex offender.

The T&M report found that Rosenfeld would abuse young boys by inviting them to his home for Shabbat, where they would sleep over for one or two nights. At night, he would hover over their beds and fondle their genitals or other parts of their bodies. Some former students said Rosenfeld would stop the abuse after boys made it clear that it made them uncomfortable. Others reported laying motionless until the ordeal ended. Former students said the abuse caused them emotional suffering.

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