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Class Action Takes Aim at Rabbi Accused of Sexually Assaulting Young Women

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Rabbi Elimelech Meisels, the operator of a chain of seminaries in Israel, is the focus of a class action lawsuit in which he is accused of preying on and sexually assaulting young girls as far back as 2004.

Rachel Slanger, Peninim of America, Yaakov Yarmish, Tzvi Gartner and four subsidiary Jewish seminaries in Jerusalem are also accused of wrongdoing in the lawsuit, Courthouse News Service reported.

The class action was filed on behalf of members of the American ultra-Orthodox community in Chicago, Illinois. Meisels, who runs four seminaries for post-high school girls in Israel, allegedly threatened to call on his contacts within the shidduch (arranged marriage) system to destroy his victims’ reputations and personally see to it that no one within the system would ever marry them, according to court documents obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

Against Orthodox Jewish law, Meisels allegedly took female students to late-night private meetings where he would sexually assault them, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The families of the girls Meisels assaulted say the promise of a quality education and spiritual growth was a sham designed to take advantage of innocent young people. “In truth, defendant Meisels’ true aim was to fraudulently and unlawfully take thousands of dollars from each of these parents and to induce these girls, by telephone, mail, wire and other means, to travel thousands of miles outside the United States and away from their parents for the purpose of sexually assaulting these vulnerable young girls,” the class action states.

The lawsuit explains that while a year’s study at one of the seminaries can cost families $20,000, it “profoundly shapes and influences their marriage prospects within the quasi arranged marriage system” predominant in the ultra-Orthodox community, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The families involved in the class action originally went to a beit din – the religious court within the ultra-Orthodox community – to settle the matter. In a letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the beit din wrote that it believed students at Rabbi Elimelech Meisel’s seminaries were “at risk of harm” and it did not recommend that prospective students study at the schools at that time.

The issue was then transferred to a private Israeli rabbinical court that assured parents that Meisel would be removed from his position and that the seminaries would once again be safe, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The families of the victims claim Meisel’s removal was merely a cover-up designed by Meisel and the other accused, and that Meisel and Yaakov Yarmish had agreed to a bogus sale of the seminaries, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“In fact, the seminaries were never sold to defendant Yarmish and could never be lawfully sold to defendant Yarmish based on their corporate non-profit statuses,” the lawsuit alleges.

The victims’ families are seeking class certification and punitive damages for racketeering, fraud, breach of contract, emotional distress, conspiracy and conversion, according to Courthouse News Service. disclaimer: This article: Class Action Takes Aim at Rabbi Accused of Sexually Assaulting Young Women was posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 at 2:03 pm at and is filed under Other Lawsuits.

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