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New Lawsuit Details NJ Rabbi's Horrific Sexual Abuse Of Teen Students

Baruch Lanner
Baruch Lanner Photo Credit: Florida Department of Law Enforcement via Wikimedia

A New Jersey rabbi formerly convicted of child sex assault is facing lawsuits from five women alleging he sexually abused them, too -- all while his employers sat idly, according to various media outlets.

Rabbi Baruch Lanner, the Orthodox Union (OU), the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) and Hillel Yeshiva High School were named as defendants in the suit, filed earlier this week in Middlesex County Superior Court, as originally reported by the Jewish Week via the Jewish Telegraph Association.

Lanner's abuse was initially detailed in an investigative piece by the Jewish Week called "Stolen Innocence" in 2000, which later won an award for meritorious journalism. Lanner resigned from NCSY the day after the story was published. 

Lanner was charged with the sexual abuse of two Hillel students in the 1990s and stood trial in 2002.

The rabbi, believed to currently live in Elizabeth, was a top official in both organizations and previously previously served as the Orthodox Jewish high school in Ocean Township.

Officials in the organizations named in the suits were aware that Lanner emotionally and physically abused children, but let it continue, JTA says.

The new suit -- filed by Jane Does #1 to #5 -- says Lanner groped and kiss them at youth group events and even a trip to Israel, where one victim was allegedly punched in the stomach by Lanner when she refused to speak to him, NJ Advance Media reports.

One woman who went by "Marcia" was among the first to tell her story to the New York Jewish Week in 2000, saying she was 14 and a new student at Hillel in Deal when it began. At that time, Lanner was the regional director of NCSY, which Marcia was a part of. 

On her very first day of school, the rabbi put his arm around her -- despite the prohibition of touching between sexes -- and welcomed her to the school. 

Things only got worse, Marcia told the outlet, adding Lanner called her into his office nearly every day for eight months and kept the door closed and blinds drawn, telling her that he loved her, that she was beautiful, and then touched her most intimate body parts.

The five new lawsuits were filed hours before the deadline of a two-year window lifting the statute of limitations in New Jersey, allowing previous victims of child sex assault to file suits against various organizations and schools.

Despite countless complaints of alleged abuse by Lanner from students, he was never reported to authorities or removed from his positions, according to the suit detailed by NJ Advance Media.

Leaders of the OU and NCSY in a letter sent this week said the resurfacing of Lanner's case "reminds us of the ongoing pain suffered by his victims and of our tremendous responsibility to be vigilant and proactive in ensuring the physical, sexual and emotional safety of every participant in our programs. 

"We may not permit the failures that allowed for the abuses committed by Lanner to be repeated."

Click here for more from NJ.com and here for more from JTA.

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