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New Haven Rabbi Daniel Greer Sentenced In Sex Abuse Case

Rabbi Daniel Greer (right) confers with his lawyer William Dow outside court in September.
Rabbi Daniel Greer (right) confers with his lawyer William Dow outside court in September.

A judge Monday sentenced prominent New Haven Rabbi Daniel Greer to 20 years in prison, suspended after he serves 12. Greer was found guilty on charges connected to accusations that he repeatedly raped and molested a former student at his yeshiva. 

Judge Jon Alander ordered that Greer begin serving his sentence immediately rather than remain free on bond while he appeals his case. Alander said he considers Greer a substantial flight risk now that the 79-year-old faces a lengthy sentence that could exceed his life expectancy. Alander said Greer also has the financial means to flee, noting that Greer’s wife paid a bondsman $750,000 in cash after his criminal trial.

Alander said the Talmud, the primary source of Jewish religious law and Jewish theology, “teaches that there is hope for a man who is capable of being ashamed.” He said he hopes that Greer will feel truly ashamed for his actions and embark on a road to redemption.

Greer was found guilty in September of four counts of risk of injury to a minor. The complainant, Eliyahu Mirlis, claims Greer raped and molested him when he was under 16 and attending the Yeshiva of New Haven school in the early to mid-2000s.

Mirlis was awarded $15 million in a federal civil suit against Greer in 2017, which Greer is also appealing.

Mirlis appeared in court for the sentencing. In a statement read by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Maxine Wilensky, Mirlis said he struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience and would never recover. Mirlis said he would gladly return any financial settlement if it meant he could “turn the clock back and relive my childhood.” He said Greer has “never apologized for what he did to me.”

As Mirlis was leaving, he told reporters he was happy that justice was served. “Hopefully this is a deterrent for any other perpetrator, as well as giving other victims the ability and courage to come forward and to work on bringing an end to child sexual abuse,” he said.

Greer was originally scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20, but that was delayed after his attorneys, David Grudberg and William Dow, argued that local blogger Lawrence Dressler helped prosecutors locate witnesses and acted as an “admitted agent of the state” when he harassed and tried to intimidate the only two defense witnesses.

In the past, Greer was active in New Haven politics, was a respected member of the community, and served on multiple boards. He also played a major role in the revitalization of declining city neighborhoods.

Copyright 2019 Connecticut Public

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.