A prominent Edgewood rabbi is asking a court to throw out a $20 million verdict against him and order a new trial on sexual abuse allegations.
Attorney David Grudberg filed the motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court on behalf of the rabbi, Daniel Greer.
A federal jury last month awarded a former yeshiva student named Eliyahu Mirlis $15 million in damages, and his lawyers another $5 million, based on testimony that Greer repeatedly sexually abused him and another student over a period of years.
Grudberg’s motion asks the court the court either to throw out the case and order a new trial; or, barring that, reduce the award to under $1 million.
In his motion, Grudberg writes that Mirlis provided too little evidence of actual sexual abuse, and relied on non-credible testimony about post-traumatic stress syndrome, to prove his case.
Even if the judge doesn’t buy the scant-testimony argument, a new trial is warranted because of “the history of awards in comparable cases,” which tend to range between $500,000 and $3 million, Grudberg writes. He called the award “unprecedented.”
Grudberg argues that “strong emotions” about sexual abuse and prejudices about the fact that Greer repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the stand the case “ignited” a “volatile tinderbox” that produced an out-of-whack award.
“This is yet another attempt by this so-called ‘rabbi’ to evade the consequences of his predatory abuse and molestation of children.
As with his previous efforts, this will fail,” Mirlis’s attorney, Antonio Ponvert III of Bridgeport’s Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, responded in an email message to the Independent.
“Mr. Greer has shown nothing but contempt and arrogance since the inception of this case. But the world now knows him for the monster he is; and he will be punished.”