(September 17, 2019 / JNS) The Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy (SAR) Jewish day school in Riverdale, N.Y., has fired associate principal of Judaic studies Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick following his arrest on Sept. 14 for production of child pornography and other related charges.
“I know that this is an extremely difficult message to read and process on many levels,” wrote SAR principal Rabbi Binyamin Krauss in an email to the school community on Monday. “It is shocking to know that someone who we have trusted with our children has been accused of harming them. Despite the practices in place to protect our children, we are not immune to breaches such as the one that seems to have taken place at SAR.”
Aside from mentioning that Skolnick was allegedly behind the “production of pornography” and “inappropriate photos,” the email did not elaborate further.
It is currently unknown if any SAR students were targeted by Skolnick.
Krauss said that SAR is fully cooperating with the FBI.
“As an associate principal of a Bronx private school, one of Jonathan Skolnick’s primary responsibilities was the well-being and education of students,” said Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “Instead, Skolnick allegedly preyed on his underage victims in a heinous plot to fool them into sending him nude photos of themselves.”
“Skolnick allegedly falsely identified himself as several different teenage girls—and when his victims refused to continue to send more photos, he unconscionably threatened to publicly release the ones they had already sent,” he continued. “This arrest exemplifies law enforcement’s ability to detect those attempting to use the ‘anonymity’ of the Internet to prey on young children.”
In 2014, SAR instituted a sexual-harassment policy that mandates reporting credible sexual-misconduct allegations to law enforcement, along with guidelines for coming forward with allegations within the school and looking into them.
Skolnick also worked at the Yeshivah of Flatbush, an Orthodox day school in Brooklyn, from 2012 to 2018.
The school’s head, Raymond Harari, and the school’s executive director, Jeffrey Rothman, wrote in an email to the school community on Monday that they are “not aware of any inappropriate behavior” by Skolnick when he worked at the school. They encouraged anyone with allegations of misconduct to contact the school and the FBI.
If convicted, Skolnick could face up to 30 years in prison.
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