On Dec. 26, 2000, the OU released a summary of a report issued by a commission it established to investigate the matter. The following is a short excerpt of the 54-page summary:
The OU/NCSY Culture Contributed to the Leadership's Failures.
The commission believes and has explained in greater detail in the report that the profound misjudgments made by some in the OU and NCSY leadership in theirhandling of Lanner resulted in part from a culture prevalent within the OU and NCSYthat was--and still is--too focused on certain aspects of its mission and inattentive tothe development of serious, professional management.
Among these cultural weaknesses in management were:
Additionally, the many witnesses who spoke to the commission andwhose testimony is discussed in the report indicated that the OU and NCSY failed tofoster an environment in which students and advisors felt free to report misconductwithout suffering retribution and failed to have in place appropriate reportingmechanisms and processes. There was a widespread perception that complaints would bedisregarded or that the person making the complaint would be subjected to scorn andeven banishment from NCSY.
Regardless of the accuracy of these views, theCommission finds that the leadership of the OU and NCSY did nothing to create theopposite impression among NCSYers: first, that there was someone who could becontacted; second, that complaints would be handled seriously and sensitively; and third,that they would not suffer retribution. To the extent that members of the leadership of theOU and NCSY did not know of the serious physical sexual abuse by Lanner, they bearresponsibility for not creating a climate that would encourage a teenager to make themaware of such conduct.
The Need for Reform within NCSY.
NCSY began in the early 1950'sas a small volunteer youth outreachprogram. By 1954,the chapters that had been forming throughout the United States werewoven by the OU into a national organization, the National Conference of SynagogueYouth. In the early days, the NCSY National Office was able to maintain significantOversight over the local chapters and regions. Over time, the regional leadershippositions gradually progressed from volunteer to paid part-time and, eventually, full-timestatus. The regions thus grew in both number and independence.
Collectively, NCSY has a professional staff ofover 150 individuals, including Regional Directors, supervisors, field workers, rabbis andteachers. Additionally, NCSY enlists the support of almost 2,000 part-time volunteeradvisors. Through the National Office and the Regions, NCSY runs over 750 majorevents annually in the United States, Canada and Israel.
The commission finds that NCSY's management structure has not kept upwith its tremendous growth over the years. The result is that NCSY has not beenoperated in the professional manner that would befit an organization of its size andpurpose. NCSY lacks an effective management structure; true lines of reporting;accountability and evaluation; effective training programs, financial controls; andpolicies and procedures governing critical issues. The Commission thus believes thatNCSY is in need of substantial reform on several fronts.
Set forth below are the commission's recommendations to the OrthodoxUnion. A few preliminary observations are in order: