Yosef Meystel

Case of Yosef Meystel

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Published: 12 January 2013

Posted by: Phil Jacobs

Yosef Meystel was expelled from Rabbi Naftoli Riff Yeshiva in Sound Bend, Indiana when he was in 9th or 10th grade for pulling his pants down of another boy during an argument. It is believed that because Meystel’s father donated a great deal of money he was allowed back into the school. Yosef’s father owned a well known clothing store in Chicago at the time. There was also a rumor floating around that Yosef Meystel’s also molested one his younger siblings.

Rabbi Naftoli Gettinger was the Rosh Yeshiva (dean of the school ) at the time. The Rav (Rabbi) was Raphael Gettinger, Naftoli’s older brother.

“Steve” attended the Rabbi Naftoli Riff Yeshiva in South Bend, Inc. when he was 13 years old. The 25 year-old school administrator was Yosef Meystel.

“Steve” was warned by the other boys at the school that it was best to be on the good side of Meystel, “because if you weren’t he would harass you all the time”.

One of the jobs of Meystel was to organize the food for the yeshiva (making sure it was kosher). Being in South Bend having kosher food could be a challenge.

“Steve” stated that Meystel was overly generous to him. Instead of “Steve” having to use the public pay phone in the hallway to call home, Meystel would always let him use a private phone in an office. “Steve” was always grateful for this since he would often be on the phone crying because of the illness at home. The survivor was a straight “A” student.

Meystel started grooming “Steve” by doing all sorts of special things for him, which lead to “Steve” spending time in Meystel’s room. Gradually Meystel started showing him pornography, laying in bed exposing himself , and masturbating in front of “Steve”. Meystel slowly encourage “Steve” to do the same thing, and “things progressed from there”. The boys grades dropped from being an “A” student to a “C” student.

“Steve” told some of his friends that Meystel wouldn’t leave him alone; yet didn’t go into details about what was happening.

“Steve” left the school for summer break, never told his family what happened and ended up returning the next year. Nothing happened at first, so “Steve” thought he was going to be ok. After Succos (a Jewish holiday in the fall) the abuse began. “Steve” stated he did his best to stay away from Meystel, but things continued.

When “Steve” was 14. He disclosed his secret to a few friends. Together they decided to get Meystel on tape, which they did, and took the tapes to the Rosh Yeshiva, Raphael Gettinger right before parents day at the school. Steve still was not at a point he could disclose to his parents what was happening.

Rabbi Gettinger’s confiscated the evidence and stated that he would take care of the situation. Nothing was done, except Yosef Meystel left the school a few days before the parent’s day weekend.

At one point “Steve” told his parents what was happening. “Steves” parents confronted Rabbi Gettinger who then offered to pay for the boy to see a therapist connected to the school. The therapist had no training in dealing with survivors of sexual abuse, and told “Steve” to read self help books.

“Steve” stated that at this point the rosh yeshiva did what he could to make the incidents public knowledge and the boy was being harassed by his classmates, being called gay, etc. He eventually left the school.

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