New details have emerged in the case of the Ohio rabbi accused of sexually abusing a Baltimore County girl.
Reached at the seminary from which Rabbi Frederick “Ephraim” Karp, who is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, graduated in 1998, Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, dean of the Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary in Spring Valley, N.Y., said that Karp “was a very fine young man.”
“He was very dedicated to rabbinical work,” said Spivak, adding that Karp had a close group of friends at the school and took his studies seriously.
Though Spivak is a graduate of Loyola College and Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in Baltimore, the rabbi said he was unsure of what connection Karp had to the Jewish community in the area. Karp’s wife is a graduate of the University of Maryland and he has an aunt in Gaithersburg.
Karp made his first appearance in Baltimore County court last Thursday for a hearing at which a judge reduced his bail from $5 million to $500,000 and forbid him from any contact with his accusers, witnesses or children under the age of 18.
Karp, 50, a Beechwood, Ohio resident and director of spiritual living at the Menorah Park Center for Senior Living there, was extradited to Maryland on Jan. 28 from New York City, where he was arrested Jan. 15 at the John F. Kennedy International Airport as he awaited a flight to Israel.
He is charged with second- and third-degree sex offense, sexual abuse of a minor and perverted practice stemming from an accusation made on New Year’s Eve that Karp had been repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl in Baltimore County over a five-year period.
Karp, who wore an orange jumpsuit and sat quietly during the Towson proceeding, made his appearance via closed circuit television from a holding area.
State prosecutor Lisa Dever, who heads the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s sex offense and child abuse division, detailed some of the allegations against Karp to the judge. The alleged victim, she said, came into contact with Karp through a close relationship between the rabbi and her family.
The abuse, the state claims, began when the victim was 7 years old and continued until Karp’s arrest. The girl is now 12. Furthermore, the attorney added, two of the victim’s sisters have since come forward and accused Karp of inappropriately touching them as well.
[pullquote]The alleged abuse began when the victim was 7 years old and continued until Karp’s arrest.[/pullquote]
The State’s Attorney’s Office would not say whether more charges would be pursued.
Karp’s lawyer, Marc Zayon, told the judge his client was not aware of any investigation surrounding him until Jan. 14, when Baltimore County police came to his home in suburban Cleveland to speak with him. Karp was not trying to flee the country, said Zayon. Rather, he was leaving for a planned vacation he had scheduled in September.
Karp’s wife, Sarah Epstein Karp, was present at the bail hearing, along with Karp’s brother-in-law.
Karp’s two adult children were absent at the hearing.
Before moving to assume his role at Menorah Park, Karp lived in Monmouth, N.J., where he worked as the local federation’s community chaplain from 2001 to 2008.
Karp founded Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains and served as its president. He was suspended from that role, as well as his position at the Menorah Park Center, late last month.
“We have no knowledge of any details other than those published in the media,” Neshama said in a statement. “NAJC must trust the legal process of the State of Maryland and, until these charges are either proven or dismissed in a court of law, have suspended his membership in the organization.”
A pretrial hearing was granted but has not yet been scheduled. As of press time, Karp had not posted bail and remained at the county detention center.
Baltimore County Police have said that there is no evidence that any incidents of abuse occurred at any Baltimore-area Jewish facilities.