Teacher fired from Beth Tfiloh suing accusers

A rabbi who was fired from Beth Tfiloh school in Pikesville amid abuse allegations has sued the parents of his accusers, as well as an activist in New York.

Rabbi Steven Krawatsky and his wife, Shira, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Maryland. Krawatsky, who also goes by the first name Shmuel, taught for nearly 15 years at Beth Tfiloh, a private Jewish school.

In 2015 and 2016, Krawatsky was accused of sexual abuse at Camp Shoresh in Frederick County, where he worked as a counselor for 15 years, he says in the lawsuit.

Krawatsky, 40, denies the accusations. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office investigated and prosecutors did not bring charges.

Several weeks ago, the New York Jewish Week published a report detailing the allegations. After the report was published, Beth Tfiloh terminated Krawatsky. He had taught Judaic studies at the school.

In the lawsuit, Krawatsky and his wife allege that those who have accused him engaged in an effort to “damage Rabbi K and destroy his reputation and ability to earn a living.” The lawsuit’s claims include defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Rabbi K has been a highly loved and respected teacher, counselor, and tutor for many years,” they say in the lawsuit.

“My client wants to get the true facts out in public,” said his attorney, Chris Rolle. “So that’s why he’s had to sue.”

The lawsuit names as defendants two couples who are the parents of two boys who alleged abuse in the Frederick case. It also names Chaim Levin of New York, who advocates for victims of sexual abuse and who has spoken publicly about the case.

The Baltimore Sun is not naming the parents of the boys who accused Krawatsky because doing so could identify their children. The Sun does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes.

Krawatsky says in the lawsuit that the parents of one of the boys contacted Beth Tfiloh and Camp Shoresh in 2015 demanding that Krawatsky be fired. He says the parents also contacted his synagogue and a community center where he socializes to demand that he be barred.

The lawsuit also cites a Facebook post from Levin in November, in which Levin called the rabbi “extremely dangerous.”

“He is alleged to have inflicted severe harm on multiple children,” Levin wrote in the post. “More details about this case will be forthcoming but I feel obligated to go on record and say that not only have many ‘good people’ and ‘good organizations’ known about this dangerous man, but they actively did NOTHING.”

Levin, who has spoken out about his experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse, is now interning for the Indianapolis law firm Saeed and Little, which is representing the families who have brought allegations against Krawatsky.

He said the lawsuit “feels like a bully tactic.”

“I’m very proud of the role I played,” Levin said. “Every survivor everywhere should know that things like this [lawsuit] will not silence people who were hurt.”

Attorney Jonathan Little, who represents the families, called the lawsuit “a very aggressive course of action.” Little said the firm now represents more than three children with abuse allegations against the rabbi, and that they would be filing counterclaims.

“It’s nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to to intimidate our clients,” Little said.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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