Posted in Sexual Abuse on March 15, 2018
Employers terminated Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky from his post at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Maryland on January 18, 2018 amid allegations of child sexual abuse. The rabbi also lost his position as leader of a minyan for teens with disabilities at a local synagogue. The sexual assault claim has rippled through the Baltimore Orthodox Jewish community, creating controversy and division. A recap of events thus far can help you follow along with the still-ongoing story.
The allegations against Rabbi Krawatsky stem from the summer of 2015 – a summer three young boys (ages seven and eight) spent at the popular Camp Shoresh in western Maryland. Camp Shoresh is an Orthodox day camp in Frederick County. In June and July, the three boys spent most of their days at Camp Shoresh under the care of the head of the lower boys’ division – Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky.
Shortly after the boys’ stay at camp, each of the boys’ parents began to notice behaviors indicative of sexual abuse. Reports later stated that the parents noticed mood swings, nightmares, headaches, bed-wetting, violent behaviors, “explosive” outbursts, and actions such as smearing feces on the walls. The claims also state that the rabbi had “groomed” the boys for abuse, giving them special attention and gifts. It wasn’t until two years later, however, that the alleged abuse would gain public attention.
More than two years later, a therapist of one of the boys reported possible sexual abuse to the Frederick County Child Advocacy Center. According to an email exchange between the therapist and the alleged victim’s parents, the private therapist reported claims that Rabbi Krawatsky had anally raped the boy at Camp Shoresh. Another boy had told his parents (and later reported to Child Protective Services) in early 2017 that the rabbi had anally raped him, as well as orally raped him.
Just days after the CPS received reports of alleged sexual abuse from Rabbi Krawatsky, Chaim Levin published a blog post warning the Baltimore Jewish Community about the rabbi. The blog stated that “Rabbi K” – his nickname – was extremely dangerous and was alleged to have inflicted severe harm on more than one child. Chaim Levin is a writer and advocates against childhood sexual abuse, as a victim himself. The blog post publicized the claims against the rabbi and sparked controversy within the Baltimore Orthodox community.
After allegations of improper conduct and sexual abuse against Rabbi K surfaced, Maryland officials started a deep investigation. The Jewish Week looked into the allegations against the rabbi and found criminal charges for “sex offense in the third degree” as well as “sexual abuse of a minor” filed back in 2015. Nothing came of the charges, however. Rabbi K continued to work with children from 2015 onward, teaching Judaic studies at the community middle school in Pikesville.
On January 18, 2018, officials at the school terminated the rabbi’s employment in the face of the sexual misconduct allegations. The actions against the rabbi resulted in a significant division within Baltimore’s Jewish community. Some believe the allegations and wish to see the rabbi criminally convicted of sexual misconduct, while others stand behind Rabbi K and state that the boys and their parents are falsely accusing the community leader.
In February, Rabbi Krawatsky filed a lawsuit seeking $520 million from the parents of the two boys who alleged sexual abuse against him. The 55-page lawsuit cites 57 counts against the parents, including several types of defamation, conspiracy, invasion of privacy, financial losses, damages to reputation, and emotional distress. Krawatsky and his wife have requested a trial by jury to determine the matter. Stay tuned for more information about the ongoing cases involving Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky.