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 →
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 →
In both cases, we have popular yeshiva teachers who loved spending time with kids even on their off hours. In both cases, several parents brought their children to the authorities to report these yeshiva teachers for sexual abuse of boys while they were working in summer camps. In both cases the official responses were inconclusive but the teachers lost their jobs. In both cases a variety of community leaders, including the heads of the schools that fired them, nevertheless publicly insisted on their innocence of child molesting. And in both cases funds were raised for lawyers to uphold the claims of innocence.
In the end, Bodkins withdrew his lawsuit when the pre-trial discovery process, including depositions, exposed how insiders who indeed assumed Bodkins’ guilt acquiesced to rabbinical pressure to protect his reputation. I expect the exact same thing to happen with Krawatsky’s lawsuit.
I believe it is a PR stunt which will evaporate long before it even gets close to a trial. But, if it ever makes it to trial, I believe it will strip away the ambiguities of the case and demolish claims by Krawatsky and his backers.
Dr. Michael Salamon, a frum therapist with a specialty in child abuse, just posted an article in the Times of Israel, Communities that Protect Abusers. He writes:
What happens when an actual neighborhood community has a terrible history of responding to accusations of abuse? A community that has never actually taken up the struggle to confront and isolate childhood sexual abusers from its midst? The answer is simple. Abusers tend to gather there as a last refuge. And in their way, they will go on to charm and groom the entire neighborhood and the community it represents. There they find new victims. They get involved in youth activities as teachers, sports coaches, camp counselors and go on to find vulnerable children to attack. When their victims finally come forward, when police are finally called in to investigate, these communities far too often rally around the predator. They dispute charges. They help hire attorneys to represent the abusers; attorneys known for their ability to intimidate protective services workers, and the families that support the victims in their quest for justice. They write articles for newspapers in support of the abusers bending facts to make the victims look like false accusers. Continue reading →
Signatures are being solicited for this open letter asking Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School of Baltimore to bring in an independent investigator to look into their handling of sexual abuse allegations about Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky and Dr. Jonathan Lasson and implementing any findings regarding policy and dismissals of culpable personnel.
The signers commit to withholding support (e.g., $) until its demands are met.
The core group that organized this letter are Beth Tfiloh alumni but they welcome the signatures of anyone who is or was part of the Beth Tfiloh community.
We, the undersigned members of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School community, are deeply disappointed by the discovery of Beth Tfiloh’s apparent failure to promptly address allegations of abuse perpetrated by Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky. We are also highly concerned by its recent employment of Dr. Jonathan Lasson, an individual formally sanctioned for inappropriate professional behavior. Finally, we are distressed by what appears to be Beth Tfiloh’s failure to take accountability or to identify a plan of preventative action in its response.
The Beth Tfiloh (BT) Dahan Community School seeks qualified applicants for the following four positions.
MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER OF JEWISH STUDIES with no confirmed reports of child sexual abuse that can be reported in newspapers. No need to worry about actions of other organizations like the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations of America (OU) as long as we can claim never to have heard them. Besides our competitive pay and benefits package, employees unfairly charged can count on the school to secure funding for legal costs which will bludgeon false accusers into submission Continue reading →