What to Know
- Federal prosecutors announced child pornography charges against Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick, who worked at a Bronx school
- Authorities allege that Skolnick pretended to be a teen girl and tricked a teen boy into sending him nude photos
- The FBI said it believes Skolnick may have had other victims
A rabbi and associate principal at a prominent New York City private school allegedly tricked a teen boy into sending him nude photos, and told the FBI he had sought nudes from dozens of other minors, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Jonathan Skolnick was arrested Saturday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said in a statement. He is scheduled to have a detention hearing Wednesday.
Skolnick told federal agents searching his home that he had solicited nude images from 20 to 25 potential victims, mostly minors, according to a copy of the complaint filed in federal court.
Over the last six months, prosecutors said, the rabbi allegedly posed as a teen girl online to communicate with a 14-year-old boy. He purportedly convinced the boy to send these "girls" nude and explicit photos of himself.
The alleged victim cut off communication in June, but in September, authorities allege, Skolnick began sending "increasingly threatening" messages, which were traced to his Bronx home.
He faces a laundry list of charges related to the production and possession of child pornography, with potential penalties of up to 30 years in prison.
Skolnick was the associate principal of SAR Academy in Riverdale, which calls itself "a Modern Orthodox co-educational day school" serving students up to 8th grade.
The school fired Skolnick, where he had worked with Grades 6-8 for the last 14 months, after learning of his arrest.
"We have reason to be concerned that SAR students may have been victims or potential victims and we are asking you to share any information you have with law enforcement as they continue to conduct their investigation," SAR Principal Rabbi Binyamin Krauss wrote in a letter to parents and faculty Monday.
"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. When such a breach occurs, we must and do address it swiftly and directly, cooperate with law enforcement fully, and communicate with transparency. It is my commitment on behalf of the school to make sure that we will continue to do all of that in this case," Krauss wrote.
Attorney information for Skolnick was not immediately available.
The FBI is asking anyone who may have information or may have been victimized by Skolnick to contact the agency at 1-800-CALL-FBI.