NEW YORK (JTA) — A prominent Connecticut rabbi was charged in the alleged sexual assault of a minor two months after he was ordered to pay a civil judgment of $20 million relating to the same allegations.
Rabbi Daniel Greer, 77, the founding rabbi of the Yeshiva of New Haven, turned himself in to police Wednesday morning and was charged with second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor, police told the New Haven Register. Bond was set at $100,000.
Eliyahu Mirlis of New Jersey, now an adult, claims the rabbi raped and sexually molested him hundreds of times when he was a minor and a student at the religious boarding school in the early to mid-2000s. Mirlis has urged media outlets that normally would not identify an abuse victim to use his name.
In May, a federal jury ordered Greer and the Yeshiva of New Haven to pay Mirlis $15 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The criminal investigation proceeded more slowly than the civil trial.
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 attended the school from 2001 to 2005.
Greer has denied the allegations and his attorney said he would appeal the civil judgment. He plans to enter a plea of not guilty, his lawyer in the criminal case told the New Haven Independent.
“Rabbi Greer has a long history of positive contributions to the New Haven community,” Willie Dow said. “These charges are unfounded. He looks forward to addressing this case in court.”
In addition to founding the Yeshiva of New Haven, Greer has served on the New Haven Board of Police Commissioners and as a chairman of the city’s Redevelopment Agency, helping to revitalize New Haven’s Edgewood neighborhood.
Greer’s daughter was one of five Orthodox students who unsuccessfully sued Yale in the late 1990s claiming the Ivy League university violated their constitutional rights by requiring they live in coed dorms.