Beth Tfiloh dismisses day school teacher

A rabbi who taught at a private Jewish school in Pikesville has been fired after a New York-based publication detailed allegations of sexual abuse against him.

Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky was terminated from Beth Tfloh Dahan Community School following a report by The New York Jewish Week, according to a statement posted to the school’s website. The article, published last week, described allegations that he abused three boys who attended a camp in Frederick County where Krawatsky once worked.

After investigating the allegations, Frederick County law enforcement officials did not bring charges. An attorney for Krawatsky said Monday he denies the allegations.

Krawatsky taught Judaic studies at the Beth Tfiloh middle school. The school’s board of trustees president, Joel Cohn, wrote in a statement Monday night that no allegations of any impropriety have been made against the rabbi during his 15 years at the school.

“We are aware of no safety concerns or complaints about Rabbi Krawatsky’s conduct at Beth Tfiloh at any time,” Cohn wrote.

Zipora Schorr, the school’s director of education, announced last week that the school terminated Krawatsky’s employment after considering information in the article.

“Prior to [the article], Beth Tfiloh was not privy to the scope of allegations due to the fact that the case involved another organization, and the details were not shared with us by the investigating agencies,” Schorr wrote in a statement. “Given the specific details alleged in the article, the need for immediate and decisive action became clear.”

The school community was collectively “shocked” by the report, Cohn said.

“The Executive Committee of the Board determined that the explosive nature of these allegations and the associated publicity made it impossible for Rabbi Krawatsky to effectively carry out his educational duties at Beth Tfiloh,” Cohn said.

In a letter to parents last week, Schorr said the teacher previously had been placed on leave from the school when the allegations were made “until the case was resolved.”

“The case in question was resolved in February 2016 with a finding that the allegations were unsubstantiated,” she wrote in that letter, which is also posted to the school website.

School officials did not comment when initially contacted by The Baltimore Sun on Monday.

Maj. Tim Clarke, a spokesman for the Frederick County sheriff’s office, said the agency opened three separate investigations in 2015, 2016 and 2017 based on accusations involving two alleged victims. The investigations were closed without bringing criminal charges.

Clarke referred further questions to the county state’s attorney’s office, which did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Chris Rolle, a Frederick attorney representing Krawatsky, said the rabbi denies the allegations and that he passed a polygraph test when the sheriff’s office investigated him. He said Krawatsky wants “the truth to come out.”

“He’s innocent of the allegations,” Rolle said.

Krawatsky also was employed by Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim in Pikesville, where he led a teen prayer service, but has resigned that post, according to synagogue officials.

In a statement, synagogue leaders said that when they first learned of allegations against Krawatsky “at a prior place of employment” they spoke to “many of the involved parties,” including law enforcement officials. They did not say when they first learned of the allegations.

They said they “were presented information that painted a very different picture than that depicted in a recent publication.”

“Based on those consultations, it was determined that he could remain in the limited function for which he was hired — which is a group setting with other adults present,” said Shimmy Messing, the board chairman, and Richard Buck, the president, in a statement.

“The individual has resigned from his employment with the shul,” the statement said. “This should in no way be considered an indication of guilt or innocence.”

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