Defense attorneys for Rabbi Daniel Greer tried to prohibit a blogger who has intensely chronicled Greer’s sexual abuse case from entering a courtroom here by misrepresenting a legal document.
William Ward, a Litchfield attorney, told a judge here that the rabbi’s legal team had obtained a restraining order against Lawrence S. Dressler, the author of at least 185 online posts about Greer.
In fact, the lawyers had only recently turned in their application for a protective order; a hearing on the matter was still 11 days away.
“Next time, read it more carefully,” Michael P. Shea, the presiding U.S. District Court judge, admonished Ward, shaking his head in noticeable frustration.
That scene took place last week during a civil trial involving allegations that Rabbi Greer for years molested teenage boys at the yeshiva he runs in New Haven’s Edgewood neighborhood. (Click here to read more about the trial.)
Dressler later told the Independent he felt “really shocked” that the attorneys had “risk[ed] looking like sleazebags” by misstating what was in the document. Ward declined to comment.
The animosity that spilled into open court last week would have been unthinkable two years ago, when Dressler was a familiar face in Greer’s synagogue — a sign of how accusations that the rabbi molested teenage boys has fractured New Haven’s Orthodox Jewish community.
Dressler attended services at the Yeshiva of New Haven for many years. His son even enrolled in classes there for a single year. Back then, Greer harped on the importance of traditional values — “kind of like somebody from the Dark Ages,” Dressler said. The Greers crusaded against gay rights in Connecticut, exposed johns who patronized street prostitutes on Whalley Avenue and filed a lawsuit against Yale University for requiring students to live in co-ed dorms. Their message — “Society has broken down; there’s no morality,” as Dressler remembered it — resonated with his congregants, who became almost “cultish,” the blogger added.
After allegations of child abuse came to light, the rabbi’s alleged hypocrisy consumed Dressler. Greer “is raising children there, trying to protect them from the evils of the world. And yet, here he is, the most depraved person,” he explained of his fascination with the case.
On the blog, Dressler goes by the pen name “Larry Noodles” — his nickname at Otisville Federal Prison, where he served 20 months for mortgage fraud. In prison, Dressler began blogging about his experiences there (in this Independent series).
After his release from the penitentiary in November 2015, Dressler created his own blog, which has largely focused this year on Rabbi Greer. On his blog, Dressler has referred to the rabbi as “the Goat,” a “monster” and a “pedophile.”
Shortly after his release from the penitentiary, Dressler distanced himself from the congregation and its tumult.
In July 2016, a few months after he had stopped attending services and started blogging, Greer filed a defamation suit, in which he complained that Dressler falsely accused him of paying millions in “hush money” to victims. (Greer didn’t dispute the published accusations of child abuse, only those of an alleged coverup.)
Two months later, when Dressler reappeared at the synagogue, the 75-year-old rabbi allegedly attacked him. “Daniel Greer appeared suddenly, and without warning, and while screaming unintelligibly, maniacally attacked [Dressler], violently pushed, shoved and kicked [him] and raised his clenched fist to [his] head, in an uncontrolled fit of anger,” a countersuit, filed this March, claims.
One day before the civil trial began last week, Greer applied for a restraining order, requesting that Dressler stay 100 yards away from him and the courthouse. In an affidavit, he claimed Dressler had been stalking him.
“Mr. Dressler has followed and lied in wait for me outside my home, my office, my grocery store, my neighborhood and my synagogue on several occasions,” the application states.
Two days later, Dressler stood outside the courthouse with a video camera, waiting for close to an hour for the rabbi to emerge. When Greer and his wife appeared, Dressler ambushed them, peppering the rabbi with questions while the rabbi walked silently on: “Are the police investigating you for raping children? Do you have any comment? Is that why you’re taking the Fifth Amendment? Why don’t you deny these charges?” (See the video above.)
That night, a process server notified Dressler of the application for a protective order.
In an interview, Dressler denied he had ever stalked Greer. “Unless showing up at the courthouse counts as stalking somebody,” he said.
Dressler said he lives near the neighborhood Greer revived in the 1980s by renovating derelict homes, so he occasionally bumps into the rabbi by chance. “I run into a lot of rabbis,” he added.
Yet over the weekend, after posting two more blog entries about how Greer refused to answer questions by invoking his right against self-incrimination, Dressler told the Independent he had reconsidered his answer. In an email Sunday evening, he wrote, “I plead the Fifth Amendment!”