Families, activist sued by former Beth Tfiloh teacher file motion to dismiss

Two families and an activist who were sued for alleged defamation by a former Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School teacher have filed a motion to dismiss the claims, saying the lawsuit was filed in the wrong court.

In January, Rabbi Steven Krawatsky and his wife, Shira, filed a lawsuit in the northern division of the U.S. District Court of Maryland in Baltimore, claiming the defendants had engaged in an effort to “destroy his reputation and ability to earn a living.”

Their lawsuit named as defendants two couples who accused Steven Krawatsky of abusing their children, as well as Chaim Levin, an advocate for victims of abuse.

The Baltimore Sun does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual abuse. The Sun is not naming the parents in the lawsuit because it could identify their children.

In a motion filed Monday, attorneys for the families and Levin say the Krawatskys filed the complaint in the wrong venue, in part because Levin lives in New York and one of the couples lives in Atlanta.

The other couple lives in Potomac. For that reason, if the court determines that Maryland is the proper venue, the lawsuit should be transferred to the court’s southern division in Greenbelt, the lawyers wrote in the motion.

The motion also says the Krawatskys’ allegations of defamation are vague. For example, the lawsuit claimed one family defamed the rabbi by contacting people to demand that he be fired, but the lawsuit “fail[ed] to identify any individuals who were allegedly contacted and provided this defamatory information,” the motion states.

Krawatsky’s attorney, Chris Rolle, said the motion was “without merit and filed solely for the purpose of delay.”

“We believe it will be denied,” Rolle said in an email to The Baltimore Sun.

Krawatsky was fired from Beth Tfiloh, a private Jewish school in Pikesville, amid allegations he abused boys at a camp in Frederick County. He denies the allegations and has not been charged with a crime.

No hearings have been scheduled in the lawsuit.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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