An Orthodox Judaism panel investigating teenage sex abuse allegations against a 50-year-old New Jersey rabbi and veteran youth worker blamed “profound errors in judgement” for his remaining in the field.
Baruch Lanner, who resigned last June as an executive of the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) after a newspaper article cited 11 sexual complaints against him, had been a notable figure in the youth field for 30 years. In addition, he was a ranking member of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, which created the NCSY.
Shortly after the publicity, Lanner was quoted as saying, “emphatically, emphatically, emphatically it did not happen.”
Following the publicized charges, the Orthodox union appointed nine commissioners to investigate the allegations. After the testimony from 175 witnesses claiming an array of sexual, physical and emotional abuses perpetrated by Lanner on dozens of teenagers, the panel’s report cited instances of lewd behavior by Lanner soon after his hiring that went undisciplined.
The report’s recommendations stressed the establishment of standards of conduct for all Orthodox union employees, including youth workers. Zeroing in on NCSY, it stated, “As a youth organization, NCSY should have as its operating philosophy that the safety and health of the young people in its charge are its top priority.” The report added that NCSY “should establish a comprehensive code of conduct to which all staff – lay and professional – must adhere.”
While local law enforcement agencies are investigating the allegations against him, Lanner has not been formally charged.
Contact: Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (212) 613-8321, www.ou.org.