Police Reports Raise Questions: The Rabbi Krawatsky Case

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Community News

Kol HaBirah consulted with rabbinic and legal experts before publishing this article. We established a Toelet (benefit) in making the public more aware of some of the details of a case that many have made judgments about with limited information. We do not take sides in this case as we believe there is still not enough information to do so. We do believe it is our duty to share relevant information in an objective manner to help inform public opinion.

The police reports we obtained redact the names of the minors; however the names of the parents and others are present. Based on the guidance we’ve been given, we refrain from using parent's names in these accounts and avoid graphic details as much as possible.

 

Amidst a community scandal that has yet to be fully resolved, information can be used as a tool or wielded as a weapon.

The police reports from the Rabbi Krawatsky case, recently obtained by Kol HaBirah via the Freedom of Information Act, provide further details on the allegations against Rabbi Krawatsky. Both the legal representatives to the case, as well as multiple experts on evaluating alleged cases of sexual abuse, have said that no conclusions should be drawn from this piece of essentially a larger puzzle. Discrepancies between or omissions of publicly available information highlight the need to reserve judgement. While legal proceedings continue, much has yet to be disclosed.

Many details present in the police records were included in the article published Jan. 17, 2018 by the New York Jewish Week, “Kids Were Hurt. And Nothing Was Done.”

Some details were not.

Detective Michael Davies was the lead investigator in each of the cases related to Rabbi Krawatsky since the first case in Aug. 2015. He worked in conjunction with investigators from Frederick County Child Protective Services (CPS).

What follows is our summary, including excerpts, quotes, and paraphrases, from the police reports.

ALLEGED VICTIM #1

On Aug. 19, 2015, the father of the first alleged victim told Detective Davies and CPS Investigator Shannon Pulsipher that he reached out to Camp Shoresh Director Rabbi David Finkelstein after his son disclosed a dream that included Rabbi Krawatsky. He told his father he had seen Rabbi Krawatsky naked many times. On Sept. 8, however, Rabbi Finkelstein told Detective Davies that the father first contacted him in August 2015 saying his child said Rabbi Krawatsky propositioned him and a friend $100 to touch his privates. He also said that a second conversation with the father had discrepancies with the original account.

Rabbi Finkelstein’s recounting of the father’s complaint lines up with the account the child gave to Pulsipher and Detective Davies when interviewed on Aug. 19 and Sept. 8, 2015. The child said Rabbi Krawatsky propositioned he and a friend on two separate occasions for a sum of money. The child said that on the first occasion, one of the children complied (the file is redacted in such a way that it is impossible to know if it was he or the other child), but the second time neither would do it. In his second interview, he added that Rabbi Krawatsky struck him in the stomach when he refused to comply. According to the report, he didn’t make any further claims of inappropriate touching by Rabbi Krawatsky besides the blow and tickling of he and his friend on their stomach and armpits.

ALLEGED VICTIM #2

Another alleged victim was interviewed by Detective Davies and CPS Investigator Shannon Pulsipher on Aug. 24, 2015. He didn’t disclose sexual abuse by anyone and denied ever being propositioned by Rabbi Krawatsky for any amount of money. On Dec. 22, 2015, however, Detective Davies and Pulsipher met the child and his parents at a psychologist’s practice who had been working with another of the alleged victims and him. The other alleged victim’s parents were also at the office that day. According to the report, the psychologist said that one of the alleged victim’s father requested the two boys be treated together. The father also wanted the proceedings recorded, and set up a portable surveillance device.

The psychologist told Detective Davies and Pulsipher that during their second visit, one of the kids disclosed what had happened at Shoresh, while the other did not remember. As soon as the child said he didn’t remember, both sets of parents then entered the room. One of their mothers was acting very aggressively and placed strong verbal pressure on the child who did not remember, demanding he say what happened, according to the psychologist. The child’s visible discomfort in the face of this interaction was recorded in the report. After about 10 minutes one of the children said that Rabbi Krawatsky offered him $20 to touch him but he didn’t remember where.

Detective Davies and Pulsipher then interviewed the second alleged victim, who “said that Rabbi K offered him $100 to touch him but he didn’t do it, and ‘Rabbi K just stood there and didn’t say anything.” First, he said he was by himself with Rabbi Krawatsky in the locker room, but then said that 10-15 other kids were in there changing. He also said that “he practiced with his parents twice in the hotel what to say and talk about today.” When Pulsipher asked if Rabbi Krawatsky ever touched him, he stated “Rabbi K never touched me.”

When Detective Davies and Pulsipher met with his parents after the interview, they asked about his reference to practicing for the interview in the hotel. His mother responded they were just trying to prepare and comfort him about what was going to be discussed in the interview.

Three experts consulted for this story, each of whom have a career’s worth of experience as medical doctors, psychologists, or social workers evaluating cases of reported sexual abuse of children, said they would not conduct an evaluation with two alleged victims in the room together, nor allow parents in the room at all. The exception, one expert said, would be if a child requested that a parent enter the room to provide reassurance that he or she could confide something to the interviewer — but not if a parent or third party bursts in or prompts the child to give a specific answer.

As for parents preparing children for interviews, more than one expert said there is a difference between going over expected questions and answers, urging someone to tell the truth, and instructing a child to lie.

ALLEGED VICTIM #3

The final alleged victim is first mentioned in the police records on Feb. 2016, when he was interviewed by Detective Davies and CPS Investigator Brenda Lowman. According to the report, his mother told them that one of the other alleged victim’s mother told her son “that people who lie and keep things inside will blow-up and die.”

The child’s mother said the alleged abuse by Rabbi Krawatsky began in 2014. That summer, Rabbi Krawatsky was working with their son on relaxation techniques such as holding and squeezing his hand when he became anxious or angry. After the summer of 2014, they started seeing the odd behaviors detailed in the Jewish Week article, which then intensified in Aug. 2015.

When Lowman interviewed the child, he said that Rabbi Krawatsky forced him to touch his privates “because he was in trouble for drowning his friend.” He said these encounters happened multiple times since 2014. When asked to describe another incident, he said he endured similar abuse after he had been “roughhousing” at the pool. He said there were other people in the locker room in that instance, but that Rabbi Krawatsky “told them to look away.”

He told Lowman “that this happened to other kids at Camp Shoresh,” and “my mom told me to say stuff.” He also shared that his mother told him that one of the other children was also abused by Rabbi Krawatsky.

In June 2016, Detective Davies updated ASA Lindell Angel on the investigation. After review of the interviews, she advised the case could be closed and not charged due to lack of corroboration.

On January 5, 2017, however, Detective Davies was notified and assigned to assist CPS with an investigation when the alleged victim's family came forward with new information. According to the police report’s account of his second forensic interview, conducted on January 12, 2017, the child said he started receiving multipoint sexual abuse at the hands of Rabbi Krawatsky on his first day at Shoresh in 2014, and it happened every day during the 2014 and 2015 camp season, except when it rained. When asked if anyone would come in during these incidents, he stated, “He locked the door.”

On February 20, 2017, Detective Davies visited Camp Shoresh and verified that there was no internal lock on the door of the changing room.

After the child “came back to continue the interview after a break” he said that there were others in the room also getting “punished,” and that Rabbi Krawatsky took photos on his red phone and had another kid take photos. He couldn’t recall the other children’s names at first, but when he did he mentioned that his mother “had reminded him to say this because ‘I forgot and was embarrassed.’” He also said he was subjected to multipoint sexual assault by Rabbi Krawatsky in the bathroom/changing area at Guppy Gulch Water Park, and who locked the door to the area with him and other kids inside.

The experts consulted for this story said it is common for children to withhold details about their assault out of shame, a desire to please/fear of reprisal from the perpetrator, or lack of understanding or vocabulary for what happened to them.

RABBI KRAWATSKY

Rabbi Krawatsky has worked in Jewish education for over two decades, including as an educator at three day schools, as a youth director at three synagogues, and as a program coordinator and regional director with three NCSY regions. We are not aware of any other allegations against him besides his time at Camp Shoresh.

According to the police reports, when Rabbi Krawatsky was interviewed by Detective Davies and Lowman in Sept. 2015 and March 2016, he denied disciplining anyone in the locker room, being alone with any of the alleged victims in the locker room, or engaging in any of the sexual acts of which he was accused. He told them he always changed in the pool utilities room, which was corroborated in interviews with camp staff.

Additionally, according to individual interviews conducted by Detective Davies between April and May 2016 with three of the four junior counselors working in the lower boys division (of which Rabbi Krawatsky had been in charge), they were not aware of any time Rabbi Krawatsky was alone with a child in the locker room and said the locker room entrance was visible to bystanders and it would be “a rare occasion anyone would ever be alone in the locker room.” Rabbi Krawatsky also took a polygraph test on Sept. 11, 2015; “deception was not detected” in response to the questions asked, according to the police report.

ALLEGATION OUTCOMES

In all of these cases, the state attorney’s office reviewed the information provided by Detective Davies and declined to pursue the cases in court.

At the same time, the ruling by CPS investigators Pulsipher and Lowman were that Rabbi Krawatsky was “indicated” in two cases of sexual abuse: the first and third alleged victims. In the third alleged victim’s case, there were physical and/or behavioral indications that the two boys had been sexually abused, and that “the sexual molestation or exploitation was more likely than not caused by Rabbi Krawatsky,” according to the report.

As reported by Kol HaBirah on Jan. 25, 2018, (“In the Court of Public Opinion, There Are No Winners”), Rabbi Krawatsky appealed this ruling and a settlement was reached with CPS, downgrading the findings from “indicated” to “unsubstantiated.

CAMP SHORESH

According to the reports, the father of the first alleged victim reached out to Rabbi Finkelstein in the middle of August 2015 and they met and spoke a second time that August. Rabbi Finkelstein said he asked several counselors about Rabbi Krawatsky’s changing habits and they told him he doesn’t change in the pool changing room - he uses the pool utility room. He also reported the allegations to Department of Social Services /Child Protective Services.

Detective Davies was in touch with Rabbi Finkelstein on numerous occasions, including on September 8, 2015, when he showed him and Pulsipher the pool changing room and on February 20, 2017 when he arranged for Detective Davies to inspect the pool changing room to verify that there was no internal lock. 

In February 2016, the week after Shoresh was informed that the case against Rabbi K was closed, Rabbi Finkelstein sent a letter to Shoresh parents informing them of the allegations in 2015. According to the letter, “Less than one (1) business day following receipt of this allegation, Shoresh both reported the allegation to the Frederick County Department of Social Services – Child Protective Services (CPS) and suspended the employee’s relationship with Shoresh pending resolution of any and all investigations by the appropriate authorities.”

Rabbi Krawatsky never returned to Shoresh.

MOVING FORWARD

When asked for comment about the account of the mother who was pressuring other children, Chaim Levin who is working closely with the alleged victims at the law firm involved in the case, said: “If people want to present misleading information to the public, we can’t stop them.” After all, there was no indication in the report that she or the other parents told any of the children to lie, only to speak. “We think the three reports speak for themselves, especially the last one,” he said, referring to the report with the details from the third alleged victim’s forensic interview.

None of three experts who contributed to this article said they thought the complaints against Rabbi Krawatsky should be dismissed as false based on the details in the police report; they also said that the fact that false accusations by children of sexual assault are very rare doesn’t mean the public should assume Rabbi Krawatsky is guilty.

Dr. Shira Berkovitz, the founder and CEO of Sacred Spaces and an advisor to the Orthodox Union (OU) on responding to cases of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, said she does not comment on specific cases, but offered the following general advice.

“None of this means that people should shun or shame an individual who is accused,” said Dr. Berkovitz. “To the contrary, they should support the accused in modeling humble, safe behavior, and demonstrating a willingness to cooperate with investigators, and an understanding that following accusations, certain steps must be taken to protect children....they must be prudent.”

Kol HaBirah understands the responsibility that media has in informing public opinion. We also understand the difficult time the Baltimore community is going through right now. We implore the community to act prudently but to avoid making judgments until the facts are readily available. We remain loyal to our mission and will continue to provide objective reporting as more information comes our way.