Catskills Boys Camp Named in New Child Victims Act Lawsuit

Published on November 5, 2019 by Sandy Liebhard

A man who says he was molested by a rabbi while attending a summer camp for Jewish boys in the Catskills decades ago is pursuing a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit under New York’s recently passed Child Victims Act.

Plaintiff Attended Camp Mogen Avraham in 1969

According to the October 28th filing in New York Supreme Court, the plaintiff attended Camp Mogen Avraham as an 8-year-old boy. During that time, he allegedly endured sexual abuse at the hands of Heshi Nussbaum, a rabbi who worked at all-boys summer camps run by Camps Mogen Avraham, Heller, Sternberg, Inc. The abuse continued through that summer, even after another attendee witnessed the misconduct and made a report to the head councilor.

The lawsuit names Nussbaum, Camps Mogen Avraham, Heller, Sternberg, Inc, and the UJA-Federation of New York, which financially supported the camps at the time, as defendants.

Heshi Nussbaum Convicted for Abusing Boys in Toronto

“My objective in filing this lawsuit is not to hurt the Jewish community as a whole, but rather to expose these crimes and to ‘call out’ those who enabled them in my case and other similar cases,” the plaintiff said in a written statement. “Additionally, I believe it will decrease future crimes and bring perpetrators and enablers to justice.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first Nussbaum has been accused of sexually abusing a child. In fact, in the 1980s, he pled guilting to molesting a boy while teaching at a yeshiva in Toronto, Canada.

Nussbaum was again arrested in Toronto in 2012, after several adult men filed police reports stating he sexually assaulted them as teenagers. In 2014, he pled guilty to abusing six boys in his care.

New York Child Victims Act

The filing of this lawsuit would not have been possible were it not for the passage of New York Child Victims Act, which changed the statute of limitations for legal action against abusers, as well as their enablers, in three key ways:

  • Extended New York’s statute of limitations to allow for criminal charges against sexual abusers of children until their victims turn 28 for felony cases, up from the current 23.
  • Allows survivors to file civil lawsuits against perpetrators and institutions until they turn 55.
  • Opens up one one-year, one-time-only window to allow all survivors to file civil claims, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

The one-year window opened on August 14, 2019. Since then, nearly 1,000 decades-old sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed in courts across New York State. While the majority of claims name Catholic Dioceses or the Boy Scouts as defendants, others name popular pediatricians and prominent hospitals; teachers, principals, and prestigious schools; coaches and youth sports organizations.

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