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Man who says New Haven rabbi sexually abused him awarded $20 million

NEW HAVEN -- A jury awarded $20 million to a man who accused a New Haven rabbi of repeated sexual abuse.

In the federal suit, Eliyahu Mirlis accused Rabbi Daniel Greer, founder of an Orthodox Jewish school and prominent neighborhood resident, of sexual abuse him while Mirlis was a student at the school.

The jury awarded $15 million to the plaintiff. He was also was entitled to punitive damaged of one third of the verdict by state law.

The lawsuit said Rabbi Daniel Greer, the principal and rabbi for the all-boys Yeshiva of New Haven / The Gan School, sexually abused the plaintiff, Eliyahu Mirlis, now 28. Attorneys filed the lawsuit in federal court last year.

During the trial, the prosecuting attorney, Antonio Ponvert III, said Greer refused to provide any documents. His wife, Sarah, testified and said none of the events ever happened.

"The rabbi took the fifth. He refused to answer any questions about this," said Ponvert III.

When Mirlis was 14, 15, 16 and 17 years old, Greer sexually assaulted him at least once a week for three years.

Greer was in his 60s at the time.

"The rabbi brought him to motels in Branford, a motel in Pennsylvania, he had sex with him in the bedroom of his own house," added Ponvert III.

FOX 61 knocked the door of where Greer lives but no one answered the door.

A woman who did not want to go on camera said Greer was known as a real estate owner and she said she was shocked to learn of what happened.

Ponvert III said there was at least one other victim involved; that sexual relationship ended around the time Greer started with Mirlis.

"The children trusted him. My client's parents trusted this rabbi to take care of him." added Ponvert III.

Last week a judge ordered the Rabbi to testify in the trial.

A statement released by the Mirlis’ attorney when the suit was filed said that the school allowed the abuse to continue. Mirlis attended the Yeshiva starting in the fall of 2002. The Yeshiva of New Haven/The Gan School are also named as defendants.

The suit said Greer “forced (the minor) to engage in acts of sex with him.” It went on to say he frequently gave the youth alcohol and showed him pornographic films at the time of the rapes and assaults.

School administrators and employees “failed and refused to report suspected child sexual abuse at The School … to state child welfare and law enforcement authorities,” the lawsuit said.
During the trial, the defense attorney called Mirlis a "liar" and is looking to appeal the verdict.