Yeshiva University apparently has not had its fill of sex scandals for the year. Fresh off the revelations of systemic sexual abuse at a boys’ school affiliated with the university in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, the school has found itself mired in yet another PR nightmare. A new hire in the Yeshiva College Hebrew department is Akiva Roth, 42, who was arrested on sexual assault charges in 1996.
According to the Jewish Daily Forward, Roth began teaching Hebrew at Yeshiva College in Washington Heights this semester. There is no indication that any complaints have been filed against him from within the university.
Roth was once a private bar mitzvah tutor affiliated with Golda Och Academy, then known as Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, in West Orange, N.J. He was arrested in September 1996 for exposing himself to young boys in private sessions and encouraging them to do the same.
In March 1997, Roth was sentenced to 10 years’ probation after pleading to four counts of lewdness. He was originally charged with sexual contact with and endangerment of the welfare of children.
A Yeshiva University spokesman released a statement to Runnin’ Scared, calling the situation a “personnel issue” and declining to comment on the specifics of Roth’s appointment.
The statement reads:
Yeshiva University maintains an unwavering commitment to preventing sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind and has instituted numerous policies, procedures and practices to ensure a safe environment for our students, faculty, staff and community. We will continue to review all of the University’s policies and procedures related to such matters to ensure they reflect the best in class standard. Although we cannot comment on the details of this particular case, as it involves a personnel issue, we will continue to review this matter.
It is unclear what detection procedures the university has in place to prevent the hiring of sex offenders. But one would not know that Roth was ever convicted of a sex crime: a search of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and national sex offender registries did not yield Roth’s name. It is not known if signing up on the registry was a condition of Roth’s probation.
Roth’s LinkedIn account claims that he was previously employed at American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Drew University in New Jersey, and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
According to Failed Messiah, Roth began working at Drew in 1999 as a lecturer in modern and biblical Hebrew. He also worked as a chaplain there. He left Drew in December 2006, partway through the school year.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 9, 2013