Baltimore’s Rabbi Steven (Shmuel) Krawatsky (aka “Rabbi K”) and his wife sued two sets of parents who say he sexually assaulted their children at Camp Shoresh. They claimed the defendants hurt his reputation and cost him jobs at the camp and at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School. For good measure they sued the NY Jewish Week which published the story and anti-abuse advocate, Chaim Levin who levied that complaint on FaceBook.
At the time of the suit I said it was all bluster, a feeble, but well funded attempt to limit the damage to his reputation and to the reputations of those who backed him sporadically. I am talking about his previous employers, Camp Shoresh and Beth Tfiloh.
Krawatsky’s defenders kept pointing to the lawsuit as proof of Krawatsky’s innocence. That is absurd reasoning. Anyone can sue. The trick is winning. If the other side backs down or settles with an apology or money, you have won.
But none of the cited defendants has done that. The Jewish Week has filed a response.
On Monday (2/18/19) the parents of the Becker and Avrunin children together with Chaim Levin filed their response, a countersuit asking for damages. The parents allege with great clarity, a pattern of grooming, sexual abuse, and compromising pictures of their children. Continue reading →
This is a very valuable read, even if you think you have read enough cases. What stands out is that Rabbi Avremi Zippel, a Chabad shliach, raised by shluchim, is openly testifying in court about his being sexually abused as a child. He also gave a lot of info to the newspaper interviewers. The report really captures the ways in which the ignorance and guilt of the child victim keeps such abuse secret, even into adulthood. It is also the story of emancipation from the shroud of silence.
Perhaps he is only pressing charges because the offender, Alavina Florreich, is not Jewish. Still the story is being told.
Rabbi Zippel talked about how his frum background shielded him from the kind of knowledge of sexuality and abuse that might have protected him from the abuse by his nanny that started when he was eight years old.
However, being raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, also gave him more exposure. It was external influences that finally got him to recognize his own abuse for what it was and not just sinning. Those included #MeToo, Olympic gold-medalist, Aly Raisman’s testimony at the Nassar trial, and his chance viewing of an episode of Law and Order, Special Victims Units while he was laid up in a hospital.
This is progress. But I know there are respected rabbis across the full orthodox spectrum who were abused by rabbis, teachers, relatives, and caretakers. We still wait for them to come out publicly. We wait for them to risk the shiduch (marriage matchmaking) consequences in a community that often still believes a survivor of child sexual abuse is “damaged goods.”
I commend rabbi Zippel. One can only hope he will inspire others.
Hat Tip to Miriam Friedman Zussman who first alerted me to this story.
It started out in response to scandals in the Catholic Church but extended to other churches, gurus, Chabad in Melbourne and Sydney, and non-religious youth organizations of all sorts. It’s public hearings riveted the nation. After 5 years and over a half billion dollars it issued its 17-volume Final Report. Continue reading →
Maryland court records show that that Rabbi Shmuel (Stephen) Krawatsky and his wife are again suing for defamation against those making or reporting allegations that Krawatsky (aka Rabbi K) sexually abused children in Camp Shoresh. The suit was filed on 10/16/18. The suit names two sets of parents who each allege that their son was sexually abused by Rabbi K. The Krawatskys are also suing activist Chaim Levin, the Jewish Week (JW) which reported on the allegations, and the reporter who wrote the JW story, Hannah Dreyfus. Continue reading →
It is my opinion that Rabbi Shmuel (Steven) Krawatsky and his wife acted in bad faith when they filed his defamation lawsuit against the Avrunins, the Beckers (both parents of children they alleged he abused) and blogger/activist Chaim Levin.
I say that because they filed a legally flawed suit that would be dismissed without any discovery phase, subpoenas, depositions, or a trial. This was good for them because it meant the truth would not be exposed in a trial.
They filed it in federal court when it could only be filed in Maryland courts if both the plaintiff (Rabbi K) and one pair of defendants (the Beckers) both lived in MD. They could have dropped the Beckers and just sued the Avrunins (who had moved to Georgia) and Chaim Levin (who lived in NY). But instead they filed in federal court even though every such case goes through a jurisdiction review before anything proceeds. And of course the jurisdiction review determined that the case did not qualify. Continue reading →