Hundreds of thousands of dollars might be flowing in to Rabbi Daniel Greer’s Edgewood neighborhood institutions — or they may be flowing out — or both, depending on the trajectories of two new filings.
The city of New Haven is filing a recommendation that the state OK tax credits for $600,000 in private donations for construction work at the Greer-run not-for-profit Yeshiva of New Haven, F.O.H. Inc., Edgewood Village, Inc., and Edgewood Elm Village Inc. under a little-known government program (as detailed in this article). The Board of Alders approved that recommendation last week.
Meanwhile, a former student suing Greer in federal court for allegedly molesting and raping him over a period of years at the yeshiva has added FOH, Edgewood Village and Edgewood Elm Village as named defendants. The student’s attorney, Antonio Ponvert III of the Bridgeport firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, filed an amended complaint Tuesday with those three additions. (The suit already named the Yeshiva.)
The three added organizations are among a slew of not-for-profits that Greer set up over three decades to purchase and renovate beautiful but declining homes in the Edgewood neighborhood, which the organizations rent out.
The amended complaint alleges that some of the rapes of the student occurred inside buildings owned by the named organizations, at 777 Elm St.; 203, 209 and 211 Norton St; 139 West Park Ave.; 439 Edgewood Ave.; and 193 Maple St.
“At all relevant times, Rabbi Greer was the President, Director and Treasurer of defendants F.O.H., Inc., Edgewood Village, Inc. and Edgewood Elm Village, Inc.,” the complaint states. “These corporate defendants, acting and failing to act through their servants, agents, apparent agents, employees, and representatives, including defendant Rabbi Greer, knew and should have known that their properties were being used by a child molester to facilitate and to keep secret repeated sexual assaults on a child victim.
“Notwithstanding their actual and constructive knowledge, the defendants failed and refused to take any steps to stop the sexual assaults from taking place on their properties. Each of the defendants owed [the student] a duty of care, they breached that duty, their breach caused [him] to be repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted, abused and molested, and [he] suffered damages as a result.” This story offers a fuller account of the lawsuit, which was originally filed on May 3. The student charges that Rabbi Greer, who was in his 60s at the time, provided him with alcohol, showed him pornographic movies, and repeatedly forced him into “acts of sex ... including forced fellatio, anal sex, fondling and masturbation.” The alleged abuse occurred while a decade and a half ago, when the student was 15 to 17 years old.
Through his attorney, BIll Ward, Rabbi Greer continued to deny the accusations Tuesday. Greer has worked to keep his school, the neighborhood prayer minyan there, and his organizations afloat during the fallout from the original filing of the suit.
“They’re just looking for deeper pockets. Clearly. Why else would they still be adding defendants?” Ward said in a conversation Tuesday with the Independent.
Attorney Ponvert responded that he added “responsibile parties— if a corporate entity, whether it’s run as the alter ego of Rabbi Greer or an actual arm’s length entity, knew that a child molester was raping a child on the property multiple times for a number of years, they should be held accountable for that.”
Attorney Ward argued that the suit in general puts many innocent adults at risk: “The people who should be really afraid are teachers, coaches or anyone who regular interaction with children as part of their job. What can happen, is one of these children you’re teaching today, can graduate high school, wait ten years, make an accusation without any physical evidence, and proceed to trial and ruin your reputation that you spent a lifetime building. It’s a very difficult position to be in.
“He was the primary speaker at this man’s [the former student’s] father’s funeral. This past April he was invited to the plaintiff’s sister wedding. He was there at the birth of his children. He was there at his wedding.”
“The people who should be afraid are the teachers and others who sexually gratify their perverse and predatory instincts by abusing little children,” Ponvert responded.
Ponvert said that it’s common for child rape victims often need years to come to grips with the abuse and take action. That’s why both civil and criminal statutes of limitations extend 30 years, he said. He called it a “pretty inane argument” to suggest that “attending someone’s family event excuses you from having molested them as a young boy.”