Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School has released a second staff member in the wake of firing a teacher last week after allegations were made in the New York Jewish Week that the latter molested three boys at a summer camp.
In a statement issued on Jan. 23 and signed by Joel Cohn, president of the board of trustees, the Pikesville school’s board announced that Dr. Jonathan Lasson, a psychologist hired as a Judaics and neuroscience teacher in the high school, was no longer working at Beth Tfiloh.
According to the Jewish Week, a court order details a complaint from a female patient of inappropriate behavior on Lasson’s part. It was signed and published on Oct. 3, 2017.
“We are disappointed to have learned that Dr. Lasson entered a Consent Order with the Maryland Board of Examiners of Psychologists, in connection with his adult psychology practice, in late 2017, well after he was hired by Beth Tfiloh,” the school’s board statement read. “Dr. Lasson did not disclose to Beth Tfiloh the Board of Examiner’s investigation or his subsequent Consent Order. Instead, Beth Tfiloh learned of it from a blog post.
“After careful review of the Board of Examiner’s Consent Decree, the Executive Committee of the Beth Tfiloh Board of Trustees determined that Dr. Lasson would no longer work at Beth Tfiloh.”
The school told the Jewish Week it had employed a “background check per our usual protocol and screening of new hires and Dr. Lasson was clear.”
Lasson’s dismissal comes in the aftermath of Beth Tfiloh’s termination of Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky last week. Molestation allegations were made against Rabbi Krawatsky, who taught children at a summer camp in the rural Frederick County community of Adamstown.
Beth Tfiloh announced Rabbi Krawatsky’s termination on Jan. 18 following the publication by the Jewish Week of an investigative article featuring allegations against him by the parents of three boys, ages 7 and 8, who reportedly said he molested their sons in 2015 while acting as a counselor at Camp Shoresh.
Rabbi Krawatsky’s lawyer told the Jewish Week that the 40-year-old rabbi, who lives in Pikesville and is popularly known by students and campers as “Rabbi K,” denies the allegations. He passed a polygraph test in 2015 in which he was asked about the allegations.
Rabbi Krawatsky has been the subject of a police investigation in 2015, but Lindell Angel, assistant state’s attorney in Frederick County and chief of the sex crimes and child abuse unit, decided not to pursue criminal charges against Rabbi Krawatsky due to “the lack of evidence and witnesses.”
In a transcript of one interview with an alleged victim, the boy said that the rabbi was naked and alone in the pool’s changing room with two alleged victims; he allegedly touched the young boys inappropriately before asking them to touch his “private parts” in exchange for $100.
“As a result of the allegations detailed in yesterday’s Jewish Week article, Beth Tfiloh has terminated Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky’s employment. Rabbi Krawatsky will not be on our premises, and will not have any contact with our students,” Zipora Schorr, director of education at Beth Tfiloh, wrote in a statement.
Schorr told the Jewish Week that she was unaware that Rabbi Krawatsky had been indicated for sexual abuse in September 2015 or in March 2017. In an interview with the Jewish Week several weeks ago, she said she believed in Rabbi Krawatsky’s “complete innocence” without going into details about why she felt that way.
In a letter yesterday to the Beth Tfiloh community, Schorr wrote that “prior to yesterday’s article, Beth Tfiloh was not privy to the scope of the allegations due to the fact that the case involved another organization, and the details were not shared with us by the investigating agencies. Given the specific details alleged in the article, the need for immediate and decisive action became clear. … We pray that we all come together as a school community in a spirit of unity and support – for each other, for our children, and for children everywhere.”
Married and the father of four, Rabbi Krawatsky taught Judaic studies and was a grade advisor at Beth Tfiloh for nearly 15 years. A Baltimore area resident since 2003, he also ran youth programming and was a teen minyan director at Suburban Orthodox-Toras Chaim Synagogue in Pikesville. He also served as a teen minyan director at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Synagogue in Baltimore from 2008 to 2014.
Suburban Orthodox’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Shmuel Silber, did not respond to several requests from the Jewish Week for comment. The article states that community members say Rabbi Silber is “vocally supportive of Rabbi Krawatsky and convinced of his innocence.”
Rabbi Krawatsky began working at Camp Shoresh — a 38-year-old Jewish day camp for traditional and non-traditional campers on 107 acres nestled in the Catoctin Mountains — in the early 2000s. In 2015, he served as head of the camp’s lower boys’ division.
Rabbi David Finkelstein, Camp Shoresh’s director for the past 33 years, declined to comment on the story when contacted by the Jewish Week.
Rabbi Krawatsky resigned from his position at Suburban Orthodox-Toras Chaim on Thursday night following the publication of the Jewish Week article, which was made possible by a grant through the Jewish Week Investigative Journalism Fund.
JTA contributed to this report.