(JTA) – The founding rabbi of a Connecticut yeshiva must pay $20 million US to a man who claims the rabbi raped and sexually molested him hundreds of times when he was a minor.
On Thursday, a federal jury ordered Rabbi Daniel Greer and the Yeshiva of New Haven to pay Eliyahu Mirlis $15 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, according to The Associated Press (AP).
In the civil lawsuit, which was filed last year, Mirlis claimed the abuse occurred for three years when he was a student at the yeshiva, which Greer also served as principal. He said the abuse took place on school grounds and in Greer’s home. Mirlis, now 29, attended the Orthodox Jewish school from 2001 to 2005.
The complaint states that the abuse began when Mirlis was 15 and Greer was in his 60s, the New Haven Register reported.
Greer has denied the allegations and his attorney said he would appeal the judgment, AP reported. The rabbi repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination last week when he was compelled to testify at the trial, according to the New Haven Register.
In addition to founding the Yeshiva of New Haven, Greer has testified before Connecticut’s state legislature on topics such as same-sex unions, which he opposed. He has served on the New Haven police commissioners’ board and as chair of the city’s 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 coed dorms.