Elie Wiesel molested me, New York geneticist says

New York University's Jennifer Listman recounts incident at 1989 charity event


A New York woman has said Elie Wiesel, the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, molested her at a charity event she attended in 1989.

Jennifer Listman, an anthropological geneticist who works at New York University, said the assault took place at a charity dinner to honour her-then boyfriend's late father, at which Wiesel was the main speaker.

In a post on the blogging website Medium, Dr Listman described Wiesel pushing himself in between herself and her boyfriend as the family lined up for a photograph at the event of the event.

She was 19 years old at the time.

Dr Listman continued: “Pushing with his hands, he shoved me and my boyfriend apart, inserted himself between us, placed one arm over each of our shoulders, and then gave a nod to the photographer and said, ‘Ok.’,”

“The photographer snapped the photo. Simultaneously, Elie Wiesel’s right hand had reached my right ass cheek, which he squeezed.”

She recounted Wiesel “immediately ran” into the crowd of a thousand guests, leaving her rooted to the spot,

Dr Listman’s article describes her many years subsequently combatting suicidal depression and panic attacks.

Wiesel was sent as a teenager from Romania to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, where he was forced to work in a labour camp where his parents and younger sister died.

He went on to become an author and journalist, writing 57 books including the memoir “Night”, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for “his message of peace, atonement and human dignity”.

Dr Listman said: “What happens when someone so objectively good that they received a Nobel Peace Prize, so good that they are qualified to tell people all over the world how to be good … what happens when that’s the person who does something really really bad to you when you’re nineteen?

“You are sad beyond measure because, you believe, there are no good people. You mourn for humanity and for yourself.”

She added: “If you are sad and in mourning for your lost icon, I am not to blame for taking him away from you. I am not to blame for robbing the Jewish community of a leader, the world of a symbol, or his family of their memories.

“I did not do it. He did. He is the only one responsible for his evil act.”

Elie Wiesel died aged 87 in 2016.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive