Yeshivas

Former Bobov yeshiva student sues school, alleging failure to address abuse

After learning of the abuse, the principal allegedly hit the victim in the face and said, “This is what happens when you talk to a non-Jew.”

Bobov synagogue in Borough Park. Credit: Shtetl/Mo Gelber

Nov 1, 2023 3:26 PM

Updated: 

A former student at a yeshiva associated with the Bobov Hasidic sect is suing his old school and the congregation it is affiliated with, saying administrators failed to take action after he had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a school janitor.

The complaint, which was filed in the Kings County Supreme Court in September, alleges that a janitor known to the defendant only as “Juan” committed repeated acts of sexual abuse against Bobov student David Raab in 2010, including rape in the first degree. Raab was under 18 at the time. 

The complaint further alleges that the then-principal of the Borough Park school, Rabbi Chaim Duvid Bakon, hit Raab in the face after learning that the boy had been raped. “This is what happens when you talk to a non-Jew,” Bakon allegedly said. He also said “If you ever do it again I will throw you out” and “If you tell anyone I will throw you out.”

As a result of the alleged sexual crimes, the suit claims that Raab sustained “physical and psychological injuries,” including “a severe shock to his nervous system,” and some of those injuries have led to medical expenses and prevented him from being able to work. Raab is seeking punitive damages.

In New York State, school administrators, including private school administrators such as Bakon, are mandatory reporters. This means they are legally required to report observed or suspected abuse to authorities — but, the complaint alleges, Bakon and other school officials did not do so in this case.

When reached by Shtetl for comment on the lawsuit, a man who answered the phone for Rabbinical College Bobover Yeshiva Bnei Zion claimed that the school he worked for was not the one Raab attended. 

“You’ve got the wrong place,” the man said. He declined to give his name and pointed out that the school is at 1577 48th Street – not 1533, which is the address given in the lawsuit. “You can’t indict somebody because they’re on the same block.”

Despite having a different address on the same block, the school has the same name and similar leadership as the one named in the lawsuit. The man who answered the phone said that neither “Juan” nor Bakon works there. However, the school’s 2022-23 catalog lists Bakon as a counselor.

Reached by Shtetl, Congregation Shaarei Zion of Bobov declined to comment on the complaint.

The college and the congregation have both been sued before. In 2019, former Bobov student Yonah Kohn alleged that two rabbis had raped him repeatedly as a child, according to the New York Post.

Read more in Shtetl:

Yeshivas may soon need to fingerprint employees

Hasidic boys’ school warns parents that collarless shirts invite predators

Report: in a first for Israeli Haredim, Belz implements sexual abuse awareness for boys

Lauren Hakimi is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, New York Jewish Week, WNYC/Gothamist and more. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with degrees in history and English literature. Hailing from an Iranian Jewish community on Long Island, she looks forward to shining a light on stories that matter to the Jewish community. Follow her on Twitter @lauren_hakimi.