Krawatsky Never Expected to Win His Lawsuit. It Was a PR Ploy

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.

Krawatsky suit dismissed 9-21-18I 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.

Could this have been legal incompetence? Very unlikely. It was a high-priced law firm with decades of experience in damages lawsuits. That means they must routinely decide whether to file in Federal or MD court and have to get it right. This was so simple an error that when I consulted with two other lawyers, I only had to tell them the residences of the parties for them to immediately tell me it is going to be tossed,

I am convinced that Rabbi K was simulating the anguished cry of an unjustly accused man when he was actually terrified of having the truth come out in court. It bought him some time to avoid the scorching trail of facts reported by Hannah Dreyfus in the New York Jewish Week. It allowed his defenders to say, “You see, you see, he is going to nail them in court.”

According to local accounts, Rabbi K is a man of limited means, and he would have had even less after being fired by Beth Tfiloh’s school. So who paid for it? In the past it seems that Tzippy Schorr, his defender, helped him raise money to defend  himself in protective services hearings. It is possible that she did it again, or the same crew of donors assembled the money. Why? For one thing to help salvage the reputation of Schorr who took a beating for keeping him employed while knowing of the allegations. She only dropped him after the Jewish Week story. So this lawsuit might have helped her conduct look more defensible. It also gave cover for those who kept using him to lead youth groups in synagogues.

Equally important, the suit served to defame the reputations of those who accused Rabbi K. This is an issue bigger than K. It serves as a warning to others, “Don’t dare go to court and to the media to expose our sex offenders.” That has always been the minhag hamakom (local custom) of the Baltimore orthodox community. And so it remains.

See also:

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed By Baltimore Rabbi (NY Jewish Week & Times of Israel)

Other Frum Follies posts about Krawatsky

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed By Baltimore Rabbi: Lawyer for the families says the suit was an attempt to ‘silence’ other victims from coming forward.



7 thoughts on “Krawatsky Never Expected to Win His Lawsuit. It Was a PR Ploy

    • It’s obvious the lawyer for Rabbi K himself isn’t on contingency – it’s the same attorney Beth Tfiloh Principal Tzipora Schorr has reportedly been paying to fight the investigations (the defense attorney’s brother was States Attorney of Frederick and is now a judge, so he’s good to have on your side in criminal matters). It’s unclear if she’s still funding him, but the supporters of Rabbi K have plenty of money to abuse process as much as they want to harass victims and keep them quiet. Camp Shoresh has deep political connections in Frederick County (including a recent $73,500 public works money bailout from Maryland), and the Shoresh Board includes the very wealthy Chairman of the Orthodox Union, Howard Tzvi Friedman who entertained Barack Obama in his home for a fundraiser and Josh Fidler whose family provides a lot of financial backing to Beth Tfiloh. Shoresh also gets money through the Orthodox Union leadership – Moshe Bane and Tzvi Hersh Weinreb just held a huge fundraiser BBQ for Shoresh on June 17 in Far Rockaway, sponsored by the rabbi of the White Shul, Eytan Feiner. Beth Tfiloh similarly has hugely wealthy board members and donors, apart from Principal Tzipora Schorr. To answer your question, there are civil penalties for abusing the legal system in such a manner – if any of these people are funding this lawsuit, they could face an anti-SLAPP motion (“strategic lawsuit against public participation – a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition”) and be forced to pay damages, but of course even worse would be the negative publicity of having participated in such horrible behavior of victim intimidation and witness silencing. The OU certainly has interest in keeping this quiet given what Hannah Dreyfus reported regarding NCSY and Yachad – why did they hire him and why didn’t they tell anyone when they fired him, and why their leadership is now raising money for the camp that let all of this happen?

  1. what happens when he re-files in state court, will it be a publicity stunt then too?

    (i find it interesting for you to imply that oversight was so obviously basic when it comes to the plaintiff’s attorney, but completely ignore the fact that defense counsel filed a motion to dismiss, on jurisdictional grounds no less, and completely missed the issue of diversity jurisdiction too).

    • There was no need for them to raise the diversity issue (see Wikipedia) because they knew they could count on the court to address it.

      The Avrunins and Beckers would love to be sued in state court. It would open up discovery and depositions. All sorts of records would have to be produced by Beth Tfiloh, Shoresh, NCSY, Yachad and others. And then key figures would have to give depositions under oath with potential perjury penalties. Even if Krawatsky is dumb enough to thnk he could bluff his way through it he would discover he was wrong. Grooming a child into sodomy is a whole different skill from facing discovery and depositions.

      Sex criminals love claiming they were slandered and threatening to sue. But they usually don’t end up doing it, not even if the have the money of Trump. Mordechai Tendler had oodles of money and he sued everyone in sight including even the YU student newspaper. It went nowhere.

      The oiberchachomim of Torah Umesorah and some machers in North Miami Beach thought they could defend Yisroel Bodkins. They chickened out when it was time for executives of TU to be deposed along with the Rosh Yeshiva of Telz, R. Avrohom Chaim Levin.

      But who knows. I could be wrong. Maybe the baalabatim of Baltimore are dumber than I think.

      • The difference here is that Trump and Tendler were spending their own money. Do we know who was funding Bodkins? Krawatsky is spending other people’s money, of which there is an apparently unlimited amount in Baltimore. People should think about that before donating to Baltimore charities. Of course, those funders are now opening up their own fortunes to potential lawsuits so long as the lawyer they keep funding files frivolous suits in the wrong district. There are civil penalties which could be assessed against these funders for abusing the legal system to harass, so refiling will just dig the hole deeper and deeper (especially if he refiles again in the wrong district). As Lopin points out, his claims will require discovery and depositions of a lot of Baltimore Rabbis who will not be too pleased to be put under oath and asked about what they knew and when they knew it, but they will have him to thank for putting them in that position if he refiles.

  2. Reblogged this on LOSTMESSIAH and commented:

    This article has particular relevance because sadly it represents the use of the legal system as a weapon against those who speak out. We hope that people will continue to speak up. The Courts should not be used to silence scrutiny, silence reporting.

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