A second former student of a prominent New Haven rabbi has asserted under oath that the rabbi “sexually molested” him “many dozens of times” then continued the sexual relationship when he returned to the rabbi’s school to work as an adult.
The allegations emerged in a pretrial deposition taken in the case of Eliyahu Mirlis v. Rabbi Daniel Greer, et al.
Mirlis’s attorney filed that lawsuit in U.S. District Court on May 3. It charged that Greer repeatedly raped him for three years while he was a student at the Yeshiva of New Haven, one of two Orthodox Jewish schools Greer ran inside the former Roger Sherman School at Elm and Norton streets in New Haven’s Edgewood neighborhood. (Read a detailed account of that suit here.)
Greer — a prominent figure who revived a declining neighborhood and has publicly crusaded against gay rights, prostitution, and coed university dorms — has repeatedly denied the allegations through his attorney. Greer is 75 years old; he was in his 60s at the time of the alleged abuse.
The new set of allegations emerged in a July 25 deposition of a key witness in that case, a close family friend of Greer’s who grew up attending Greer’s schools and then returned as an adult to serve as a teacher and administrator. He is now 41 years old.
That deposition was not made public in full. But the witness’s attorney, Steven J. Errante, referenced the deposition and put excerpts into the court record in a subsequent Sept. 30 memorandum.
“Greer also sexually molested [the witness] many dozens of times while [the witness] was a minor under Greer’s care at the school. After his graduation, [the witness] returned to the school and became its assistant principal, serving under Greer. Greer’s sexual relationship with [him] continued for a number of years while [he] was the assistant principal. During [the witness’s] tenure as the school’s assistant principal, he knew that Greer was sexually molesting the plaintiff [Mirlis], but he failed to report the abuse or do anything to stop it. [The witness’s] testimony as elicited by plaintiff’s counsel, Attorney [Antonio] Ponvert, at [the witness’s] deposition of July 25, 2016 directly supports the claims against both defendant Greer and defendant Yeshiva,” Errante wrote.
Errante wrote the memo in response to a motion by Greer’s lawyer, William Ward, to require the witness to sit for another deposition to be cross-examined about an alleged sexual relationship he had with another student at the school named Yaakov (a common Hebrew name).
Ward argued that the questions would help establish that the witness was allegedly covering up his own sexual misdeeds at the school by fabricating allegations against Greer.
In his memo, Errante argued that the further questions Ward sought to ask were outside the scope of the case and “nothing more than thinly veiled intimidation.” He noted that Ward had already asked the witness for the addresses and other identifying information about his family members (confirmed by an excerpt of the deposition attached to the memo) — “the effect of which was to let the witness know that his family members were going to be deposed. ... [The questions] are part of Greer’s intimidation tactics and are entirely improper. The subtext and innuendo of this line of questioning is the accusation that [the witness] himself had inappropriate physical or intimate relationships with others. [The witness] did testify that he has never had sexual relations with a student at the school or any other child. Even if the answer that question had been yes, it is hardly relevant to any issue in this case or to [his] credibility.”
Student Slashed Himself
Ward, Greer’s attorney, suggested during the original deposition that the witness may be engaged “in an attempt to divert attention from his sexual relationships with students while he was teaching at the Yeshiva of New Haven ... and diverting them to Greer.”
“Perhaps he was the one who was sexually molesting Eliyahu, or perhaps he created or fabricated this claim,” Ward remarked at one point during the deposition. At another point Ward suggested the witness was threatening Greer to have a former student make allegations of sexual misconduct against him unless Greer would in order to convince Greer to “turn over control and/or assets of the school to him.”
Ward pressed the witness about his alleged relationship with Yaakov. In the process, he elicited information about hidden doings at the school and offered a taste of the kind of testimony that might emerge publicly if this case goes to trial.
Ward: Were you aware that Yaakov would slash himself while he was a student at the Yeshiva of New Haven?
A: What do you mean by slash?
Q: Did you ever attempt to raise money for psychological counseling for Yaakov while he was at the high school?
Q: Okay. And did you ever have any sexual contact with Yaakov while he was at the school?
A: No. ...
Q: Did you ever nibble on a student’s ear while working at the school?
Lots At Stake
The next phase of the case is expected to begin Monday, when Greer is scheduled to be deposed. Previous scheduled depositions of Greer were canceled amid wrangling by the two sides; a judge finally ordered the deposition to take place.
The case has frayed a once tight-knit Jewish community centered around the school and communal prayers that took place there daily. Most members of that community — including Greer’s two sons, who were leaders of it — have since left the community.
Nonprofit groups associated with Greer and the school were responsible for reviving the surrounding neighborhood by renovating and then managing beautiful old multi-family homes. Now the fate of those buildings, with 125 apartments, is in limbo along with the fate of the defendant.
The deposition witness, meanwhile, has relocated with his family out of state.
posted by: westville man on October 28, 2016 3:04pm
As I said in the previous story on this matter, there will probably be other victims. And the fact that this victim also has a high profile law firm representing him, does not bode well for Greer. He might be innocent, but it’s not looking good for him.
posted by: denny says on October 28, 2016 6:04pm
Greer is of course innocent until proven guilty, but why is he still allowed to be near children? Why isn’t the NHPD and/or the State of CT investigating now that sworn statements regarding abuse have been made?
posted by: jim1 on October 28, 2016 7:23pm
A man of the cloth??
posted by: Noteworthy on October 28, 2016 7:31pm
The witness is 41 - this allegedly happened when he was a student. He said nothing then; said nothing in the more than 20 years since - not even when he returned as an adult, by choice to work with the same man who allegedly molested him. Then, he magically has a similar story. I’d withhold judgement until the cross examination is in and the trial comes out. There is a pattern in this election year - of adults who allows decades to go by with saying nothing, taking no action until there is virtually no possibility of finding evidence except for giving testimony now. Let me guess - he will have told his best friend who is going to be used to corroborate. There should be a very high bar for this kind of case. As for a high profile law firm - let’s be honest - it’s involved because it smells money and for no other reason than that of a mercenary.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on October 29, 2016 10:01am
posted by: Noteworthy on October 28, 2016 7:31pm
The witness is 41 - this allegedly happened when he was a student. He said nothing then; said nothing in the more than 20 years since
Why victims wait to report
Sexual assault can cause intense feelings of humiliation. Denial, shame and self-doubt are all typical psychological byproducts of being abused by someone you trusted.Victims often struggle with fears that other people will judge, blame and disbelieve them, and fear how gossip about what has been done to them can further inflict feelings of isolation, shame and humiliation.When the perpetrator is part of the victim’s social circle, or someone of upstanding reputation such as a celebrity, they also fear having others side with the abuser.Those fears can keep victims silent for years after the assault or assaults occurred.
Why abuse victims wait until their twilight years to come forward.
or more than 60 years, Sylvia Woosley kept a terrible secret. When she finally spoke publicly last week about the sexual abuse she suffered from the age of 10 at the hands of the late Sir Clement Freud, her words hinted at the corrosive guilt and shame she had carried with her all that time: “I want to die clean. Now in her late seventies, Sylvia decided to break her silence in an ITV Exposure programme, aired last Wednesday. She watched it at the home of David Henshaw, its executive producer.“We get calls from people as old as 90, some of whom have never told anybody about what they went through as children – not even their closest family members,” says Pete Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). “The average time for a victim to speak out is 22 years after the last incidence of abuse, but it can be much, much longer.
posted by: westville man on October 29, 2016 12:18pm
High profile attorneys don’t generally take bad cases- ones that have little evidence and will probably lose. That is why they are successful. If they had gotten somebody who advertises on the side of a bus or in the men’s room I would agree with noteworthy. Ponvert and Errante are the type of lawyers who will screen their cases carefully. And that is why it doesn’t bode well for Greer.
posted by: Katargyna on October 29, 2016 2:36pm
@Noteworthy- Staying quiet for years is typical in molestation cases. These victims had everything to lose considering that their families will be ostracized. Sexual exploitation is rampant in groups where one man has way too much power. We all believe Jerry Sandusky to be guilty and his victims all came out years after the crimes. You can’t cry about someone daring to damage Greer’s holy reputation while calling his accusers gold diggers.
There is a perfect storm here for a molestation. Why don’t you read a few articles about priests who molested kids and then come tell me how these people are doing it for the money because they waited 20 years. It’s disgusting to blindly support Greer out of convenience considering how many predators continue their crimes in environments where they are considered infallible gods.
posted by: Gomu on October 29, 2016 7:11pm
Where is the credit to Larry Noodles for breaking this story?
posted by: denny says on October 29, 2016 7:22pm
I’ll ask again. This is a civil case. Where are the local prosecutors and why is Greer permitted to be around children? Why isn’t a criminal investigation being conducted? Where is the outcry from local officials and the press?
posted by: fearless on October 30, 2016 3:48pm
Let’s see what happens before we pontificate about the alleged victim, his friends, and the rabbi’s alleged behavior. Lawyers want to get paid like everyone else. For those questioning the timing, there is research on all of this
posted by: westville man on October 30, 2016 4:43pm
Fearless. This site is all about opinion, prediction and even pontification. In the meantime, would you entrust your family to him? I didn’t think so…..
posted by: fearless on October 30, 2016 6:20pm
My family ? I’m supporting a legal process. You bring my family into your comments?
posted by: EPDP on October 30, 2016 10:02pm
Why doesn’t this other victim sue Greer or report him to the police? Why doesn’t Mirlis report Greer to the police? And why doesn’t Paul Bass reveal the identity of this additional victim? Or at least provide the link to the court documents? Mirlis had the courage to file his case under his own name and not use a pseudonym. Paul Bass has refused to publish the name of the victim who was a very public figure before this molestation case broke. The victim ran Greer’s school, played a major role at the annual Greer fundraiser which was attended by politicians of all stripes, and worked hard in the Greer organization that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in public grant monies over the years. I think the public deserves a more thorough reporting of this ongoing case. There is more to this case than just this additional victim. If you read the court file you will see that Greer is resorting to all sorts of sleezy tactics in order to intimidate the witnesses. At one point Greer served a lawsuit for extortion against Mirlis and the other victim, but never filed the case in court.
[Paul: When to name victims is a touchy subject. We err on the side of caution. Mirlis through his attorney was OK with being named. In general our policy is not to name names, until stuff comes up in court.]
posted by: fearless on October 31, 2016 9:52am
Westville man. Where in this article is my family mentioned? You can opine, predict , or pontificate all you want. NOT about my family. I’m Irish. Come out from behind your keyboard and answer my question. This article is about a legal issue of alleged inappropriate behavior. Not My Family. I can’t really be honest here because Paul won’t post it
posted by: Noteworthy on October 31, 2016 10:31am
There is a world of difference between a victim remaining silent for years - and then choosing to go public with the allegation and sue over it - and this second “victim” who was allegedly molested only to return to the same school, the same Rabbi for round two. Lots of questions and it will take a long time to sort it out. If it turns out to not be true, or less true than the tabloid nature of the story - it will be a shame because it means that a lifetime of work and commitment along with related family members will be forever tarnished and damaged. How do you compensate for that?
As for not naming victims - the only rule of journalism should be whether that person is an adult. It is patently unfair to make the allegations public, name the accused and not the person making the accusation. It is far to easy to convict the accused in the court of public opinion on salacious stories like this.
posted by: fearless on October 31, 2016 11:14am
Noteworthy. Paragraph one. Agree Paragraph two. Not so much. Can’t name alledged victims of sexual abuse. All the research demonstrates revictimisation throughout the process. Public humiliation, money grabber accusations, etc. We agree that the process is itchy Maybe nobody wins in these cases. Not guilty? Reputation shot Guilty? Victim affirmed. The legal process will prevail as the truth wins( most times) in the courts unless the prosecutor and/or Judge are less than honest.
posted by: westville man on October 31, 2016 1:55pm
Fearless, NHI didnt print my reply. My question i think was a fair one. We all say that the legal process needs to work its way through, that he in indeed innocent until proven guilty. My take on it has been that there is much more evidence there given the attorneys handling the case. They vet their clients. It will come out. If i am wrong, i will be big enough to admit it. But of course we are going to comment on the story- it’s what alot of us do with NHI stories. Since you wont answer my question, I will- I wouldnt allow my family, given what i know so far, to be placed in Greer’s company alone for any extended time at this point. Call me cautious. And ease up on the “family” thing- i didnt name call or disparage your family in any way. I’m part Irish myself and i dont know the relevance of that, either.
posted by: EPDP on October 31, 2016 7:11pm
Innocent until proven guilty? Are you people nuts? A jury verdict is not infallible. That’s why you have organizations like the Innocence Project that gets people out of jail who were wrongly convicted. You will never know the truth in this case, but you can analyze the facts and come to your own conclusion. Other than his wife, Rabbi Greer’s entire family has all abandoned him, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, everyone. What does that tell you? Actions speak louder than words.