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Lawsuit Filed Against United Jewish Appeal and Jewish Children’s Summer Camps Under Child Victims Act

A lawsuit has been filed against Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum, Camp Mogen Avraham, the UJA Federation - New York, and others, alleging child sexual abuse under the New York Child Victims Act.

Manhattan New York – Attorneys representing victims of child sexual abuse in New York announced today the filing of a lawsuit against Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum, Camp Mogen Avraham, the UJA Federation - New York, and others under the New York Child Victims Act.

The New York Child Victims Act became law on August 14, 2019. It opens up a one-year, one-time-only period to allow all victims access to the courts regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. This law allows survivors to seek justice against the perpetrator or institution, including religious institutions and non-profit organizations.

In a lawsuit filed today, plaintiff John WR Doe alleges that he was physically and sexually assaulted by Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum at Defendant Camp Mogen Avraham, a summer camp for Jewish children.

According to the Complaint, in or around the summer of 1969, Plaintiff attended Mogen Avraham, a Jewish summer camp in Bear Mountain near Hudson Highlands in New York. He was approximately 8-years-old at the time. This camp was funded by UJA. At Mogen Avraham, Plaintiff met Heshi Nussbaum, who worked overseeing minor attendees as a learning Rabbi.

The complaint alleges that Nussbaum would take Plaintiff alone into his cabin and onto a bed within the cabin. Nussbaum then would sit Plaintiff onto his lap and begin asking him complicated questions about the Torah. While admonishing Plaintiff to become better informed about the Torah and its teachings, Defendant Nussbaum would put his hand down Plaintiff’s pants. Defendant would fondle Plaintiff’s genitals, masturbating him.

Nussbaum’s routine of sexual abuse and harassment of Plaintiff continued throughout the duration of the summer camp, with Nussbaum having no supervision from the administrators and/or principals of Mogen Avraham.

According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff’s parents became aware of the abuse and reported it to Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, leader of the camp. Rabbi Greenwald advised Plaintiff’s father that the camp had fired Nussbaum. There is no evidence that law enforcement was contacted by Rabbi Greenwald, the camp, or the UJA. Due to these failures to report, Nussbaum unfortunately went on to work with children in other locations and capacities. Nussbaum was finally criminally charged and found guilty for sexually assaulting multiple young boys in Ontario, Canada.

This lawsuit alleges that even before Plaintiff’s abuse, in or around 1965 to 1967, Nussbaum’s involvement in the orthodox Jewish boys' school Yeshiva Toras Emes was terminated for his illegal behavior with students. The suit alleges that Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald worked with Nussbaum at Yeshiva Toras Emes yet subsequently hired Defendant Nussbaum at Camp Mogen Avraham following Nussbaum’s termination from Yeshiva Toras Emes.

Plaintiff John WR Doe said, “My objective in filing this lawsuit is not to hurt the Jewish Community as a whole but rather to expose these crimes and to 'call out' those who enabled them in my case and other similar cases. Additionally, I believe it will decrease future crimes and bring perpetrators and enablers to justice.”

John Manly, a New York licensed attorney and nationally known child sexual abuse lawyer, said, “We have represented hundreds of victims of Clergy sexual abuse and abuse suffered in youth camps. In nearly all of these cases, we found that officials knew the abuser was a danger to children, found out about the abuse, did not report them to law enforcement as required by law, and failed to stop the abuse. This disturbing fact pattern is repeated in this case. I call upon the New York Attorney General to open an investigation of Camp Mogen Avraham to determine if its leaders and staff covered up other reports of child sexual abuse.”

Prominent New York trial attorney Marjorie Berman said, “New York’s Child Victims’ Act gives survivors of child sexual abuse one year to step forward and seek justice against their abusers and the institutions that enabled their abuse. This includes religious entities throughout New York State. We are proud to represent this brave survivor, and we encourage other victims of child sexual abuse in New York to come forward and seek justice.”

Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is California’s leading law firm representing child victims of sexual abuse. The firm has represented more than 150 victims of clergy sexual abuse in California and hundreds of others throughout the United States. The firm also represented plaintiffs in the $140,000,000 settlement against LAUSD in the Miramonte case, the largest sex abuse settlement against a School District in the US. The firm currently represents more than 180 alleged victims of former Michigan State University and U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Team doctor Larry Nassar. Michigan State University has settled this case for $500,000,000, this is the largest settlement of any personal injury case against a University.

Krantz & Berman LLP is a distinguished civil and criminal litigation boutique founded in 1998 by Larry Krantz and Marjorie Berman. It handles white-collar criminal and regulatory matters, business litigation, civil rights and employment litigation and FINRA Arbitrations. Larry H. Krantz is a former federal prosecutor with over thirty years of trial and appellate litigation experience. He is a Fellow and Regent of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a Director of the Federal Bar Council (Ex Officio) and a Director (former) of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers.

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Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is regarded as America's leading law firm for sexual abuse cases. As a firm that exclusively handles sexual abuse cases, our California law firm offers experienced representation to obtain justice for sexual abuse survivors, harassment, and discrimination.

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