A Brooklyn father whose allegations of sexual molesting helped put a Hasidic Jew, Baruch Lebovits, in jail and feels that he was defamed by The Jewish Forward.
In Manhattan’s own Supreme Court papers were filed, stating that Sam Kellner says the ac-claimed paper became “Pravda for pedophiles.” In November of 2013 Sam was accused of brib-ing a witness to testify against the convicted molester, Baruch Lebovits. Sam was then also alleg-edly trying to exhort money from the Lebovits family to keep his silence. The paper then went on continuing to say that Kellner was accused of teaching a different molester how to avoid prose-cution. Niall MacGiollabhui, Kellner’s lawyer stated “Those stories were based on illegally ob-tained tapes.” He then continues to say that some of those tapes were in edited and promoted by the Lebovits’ in order for Kellner to look bad. This feud goes back to 2008 when Lebovits was first accused of molesting Kellner’s son.
A detective told Kellner that these accusations of Lebovits molesting his son won’t do any good, unless there were more victims, because they were only minor offenses. Shortly after that Kellner made it his business to find previous victims of this horrid man. Which he did, and in 2010 justice was served. Lebovits was convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault and sen-tenced to 32 years in prison.
However, in 2011 Lebovits was released from prison after serving only one year. The next day Kellner was accused of trying to bribe a witness and extort money from Lebovits’ family.
In 2012 Lebovits conviction was overturned; earlier this year he pleaded guilty to reduced charg-es, and was sentenced to serve another year, but was soon released after only 86 days.
Last March, after Brooklyn’s new district attorney Ken Thompson reviewed the case, all criminal charges were dropped against Kellner stating that the evidence was too “shady.”
MacGiollabhui said that for years the Leobvits family has been trying to undermine Kellner. They have been allegedly putting illegal wiretaps in his van and taping other confidentialities, including chats with his lawyer. Kellner says that Paul Berger, reporter for The Jewish Forward, relied on those tapes as the basis of his derogatory story about Kellner.
The suit states, “Berger’s purpose was not to examine the evidence in then pending cases of either Sam or Baruch Lebovits…or to get closer to the truth. It was, instead, an entirely squalid one: low grade character assassination of Sam.”
Berger then wrote on twitter, despite Kellner never being convicted, to promote his story. “Hear convicted Sam Kellner in his own words.” The paper later apologized for that tweet.
MacGiollabhui said that Berger knew the evidence he got was illegal and edited, but he chose to use it anyway. Kellner is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for an unspecified amount.
Sam Norich, publisher of The Jewish Forward said, “We believe this lawsuit is without merit. Our article treated all parties fairly and we stand by our reporting.”