Prominent Connecticut rabbi from ‘Yale 5’ case accused of sexually abusing boys

(JTA) – A former student of a Connecticut rabbi has claimed the Orthodox leader and yeshiva principal raped and molested him hundreds of times.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, Eliyahu Mirlis, 28, accused Rabbi Daniel Greer of sexually abusing him at a Jewish boarding school in New Haven from 2001 to 2005, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Greer did not return AP’s messages seeking comment Monday and Tuesday. His lawyer, William Ward, said the rabbi denies the allegations and he asked the public to withhold judgment until evidence is presented.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Other defendants besides Greer are the Yeshiva of New Haven, a boys’ high school, and The Gan School, a co-ed elementary school Greer leads. The lawsuit also accuses Greer, now 75, of sexually abusing at least one other boy at the boarding school.

Mirlis’ attorney, Antonio Ponvert, told AP his client has not sought criminal charges but would co-operate in any ensuing criminal probe.

“Rabbi Greer was in his sixties when he forced the minor Eli to engage in acts of sex with him, including forced fellatio, anal sex, fondling and masturbation,” the lawsuit says. “Rabbi Greer frequently gave Eli alcohol at the time he raped and assaulted his child victim. Rabbi Greer showed Eli pornographic films.”

The lawsuit says Greer sexually abused Mirlis at multiple locations, including on school property, at the rabbi’s home, and at motels and rental properties.

“Greer has never been criminally punished. He has never taken responsibility,” Ponvert said. “This lawsuit will force him to answer for his crimes.”

Greer’s lawyer questioned why Mirlis was coming forward with the allegations now.

“Ask yourself why the plaintiff would wait 14 years,” Ward said. “Ask yourself why Mr. Mirlis, well into his adulthood, repeatedly honored the man he now accuses. Ask yourself why Mr. Mirlis, an Orthodox Jew, would not seek redress from a rabbinical arbitration court. Ask yourself why Mr. Mirlis’ first stop was his lawyer’s office to seek money.”

A graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, Greer, according to AP, has testified before the Connecticut state legislature several times on various issues, including opposing same-sex unions in 2002. He is a former member of the New Haven police commissioners’ board and a past chairman of the New Haven Redevelopment Agency.

Greer’s daughter, Batsheva, was one of five Orthodox students who sued Yale in the late 1990s, claiming the Ivy League university violated their constitutional rights by requiring they live in co-ed dorms.

At the time, Greer told JTA the lawsuit was “a last resort.”

“If you have co-ed bathrooms, it is impossible to live halachically,” he said, referring to Jewish law.

The modern Orthodox community was divided over the case and the suit – though it garnered widespread media coverage, including an article in The New York Times Magazine – ultimately was dismissed.

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