Last Thursday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh allowed the New York Post to move ahead with a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by one Avraham Rabinowich over an article “The ‘randy’ rabbi – Prostitution sting in angry ex-wife’s suit.” Rabinowich claims that the article, which also posted a video purportedly showing him in a hotel-room tryst with alleged prostitutes, had cost him his job as the chief rabbi of a conservative congregation.
Rabinowich sued the NY Post holding that he had been lured to the hotel room by his former wife, Amora Rabinowich, who was had a custody dispute with him. He also sued Amora, who had allegedly hired the private investigator that shot the video.
While granting the motion to dismiss, Justice Anil Singh said that Rabinowich had challenged only two points in the story: first, that of knowingly engaging prostitutes, and second, of breaking the Jewish Sabbath to arrange to meet the prostitutes.
Justice Singh said, “Other than those two allegations, based on the amended complaint and plaintiff’s affirmation, the story is substantially true and is not actionable.”
The NY Post, of course, in its characteristic media flair posted how Rabinowich was caught “with his Dreidel out” and showed Rabinowich reclining while an alleged prostitute caressed and kissed him. The rabbi was shown nude from the waist up, and the Post superimposed a dreidel to obscure any nudity below the waist. And of course, not unexpectedly, “The Dreidel Song” played in the background of the video.
In his 2011 lawsuit, Rabinowich sued for defamation, invasion of privacy and interference with a divorce settlement. He claimed, the divorce settlement made in 2010, prevented the parties to the settlement from publishing pictures or video to hurt each other’s reputation. He sought unspecified damages.
The court observed that Rabinowich had failed to state a defamation claim, which requires the pleading of falsity under the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 3016. While granting the motion to dismiss, Justice Singh observed, “Newsworthiness is construed broadly, with the courts reviewing the exercise of judgment and discretion of journalists only in cases of clear abuse.”