A federal jury has awarded $20 million to a man who accused a prominent Connecticut rabbi of repeatedly raping and molesting him when he was a teenager.
"The jury wacked him and the school for a $20-million verdict. Justice was done," Antonio Ponvert III, attorney for Eliyahu Mirlis, said.
Rabbi Daniel Greer and his Yeshiva of New Haven were ordered Thursday to pay Mirlis $15 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
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Mirlis alleged in a lawsuit that Greer, the school's principal, sexually abused him for three years while he was a student at the Jewish boarding school from 2001 to 2005.
Mirlis is now 29 years old and lives in New Jersey. NBC Connecticut does not typically release the identity of people who allege child abuse, but Mirlis’ attorney said his client wanted to be publicly named.
"I think he's just digesting what happened and trying to understand that the jury understood him and they saw the truth," Ponvert said.
Mirlis alleged that as young as 15-years-old he was repeatedly raped and molested by Greer who was the school's principal.
About a decade later Mirlis came looking for justice and filed the civil lawsuit.
Ponvert said it was difficult for Mirlis to come forward even after all these years. And while life is still hard for him, Thursday was a step toward closure.
"It's been extremely difficult on the one hand and now I think, especially with the result, it's been very empowering and cathartic. He's a brave, brave man," Ponvert said.
Ponvert said another alleged victim testified during the trial and several others have also come forward.
And the attorney hopes this sends a message about child abuse in general.
"This is just one more building block towards what might eventually be the end of what is really a plague," Ponvert said.
Greer has denied the allegations and has not been criminally charged.
Greer's attorney said he and his client are "extremely disappointed" and intend to pursue an appeal.