By Yerachmiel Lopin (Frum Follies blog)
July 18, 2013
This morning’s online Forward has more details about Richard (Ricky or Rick) Andron, an alleged molester named in the Yeshiva University (YU) sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit.
The latest Forward story raises facts which are familiar to those who read the comments in the Frum Follies article, “The Third Man- Richard Andron.” Andron was a regular at Baruch Lanner’s NCSY events and used that connection to molest other boys in their homes where he was given hospitality and in his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where he invited boys to sleep over, plied them with porn, and then molested those he could.
The article also mentions that Andron taught martial arts classes to teens at the “Jewish Center.” This is the synagogue whose pulpit was once held by Rabbi Norman Lamm, President Emeritus of Yeshiva University. I have also received reports that Andron taught martial arts classes at the prestigious upper-east-side modern orthodox school, Ramaz. If so, Andron operated with impunity for years in four different key institutions of modern orthodoxy, Yeshiva University’s MTA high school, the Orthodox Union’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), the extremely prestigious upper west side synagogue, the Jewish Center, and the prestigious upper east side Ramaz school.
Andron’s career was enabled by two of MO’s most notorious molesters, Baruch Lanner and George Finkelstein. In fact, the scope of Andron’s activities makes the rest of them look like pikers. I wonder how much his success in penetrating all these institutions was related to his family’s wealth.
I can see some MO defenders saying, “But they forced him out of those activities, into therapy, and into marriage and a move to Boca Raton in the mid-eighties.” My response is “maybe.” As I pointed out in, “An Open Note to Rabbi Kenneth Brander about Richard Andron,” Andron was allowed to work with youth in the Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS) until he finally “resigned” and agreed to never attend their activities after the lawsuit naming him was filed. However, Rabbi Kenneth Brander knew of his history when he allowed him to do youth work at his synagogue. Brander is now a vice president at Yeshiva University.
The adverse publicity about the suit has finally affected YU. I am not talking about their conscience. I am talking about a punch to their financial gut. While they maybeat the lawsuit, the adverse publicity is hurting their fundraising plans. This in turn led to a downgrade of their bond rating.
Andron opens another window of vulnerability for YU: federal criminal trials. The statute of limitations (SOL) for state-level criminal charges by child sex abuse (CSA) victims passed long ago. However, there is no SOL for these charges at the federal level. It is likely that Andron knowingly transported boys over state lines to his home for the purpose of sexually abusing them. He lived on Manhattan’s west side and regularly went to NCSY events in New Jersey. He regularly invited boys to his home. The drive between the location of most of Lanner’s events and the upper west side is a short one over the George Washington Bridge. Lanner’s Etz Chaim NCSY region also included parts of Pennsylvania (e.g., Scranton).
Any federal prosecution will further damage the reputation of key modern orthodox institutions. It will be a long-lasting PR nightmare stretching over years between the investigation and the trial unless Andron quickly pleads guilty. MO PR folk will try to spin Andron as a one-off who was stopped and forced into therapy. But, hungry journalists, like the Forward’s Paul Berger, will draw attention to many other allegations and to those involved in protecting Andron over more than thirty years.
In my experience, indictments and trials always bring more victims out of the closet, even in cloistered Hasidic communities where the price of identifying yourself as a victim is much higher. Thus far we only know of about a half a dozen victims who have spoken to attorneys and reporters. I am guessing there are many more and we will be hearing more from them in the coming months, and perhaps, if there is a federal indictment, over the coming years.
ACTION NOTICE: If you are a victim/survivor of sex abuse by Richard Andron and crossed state lines in connection with this abuse, please consider contacting the FBI. You can find their local contact information in any directory. You may not be sure if your abuse qualifies for federal prosecution. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. They are the experts. Even if your case does not qualify for prosecution, and even if you are reluctant to testify, the information you share with them may help them build a case involving another victim.