Rabbi at Prominent NYC Orthodox School Charged With Producing Child Pornography

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Photo Source: NY1

Officials in New York announced the arrest of Jonathan Skolnick on charges of child enticement; production, receipt, and possession of child pornography; and sending extortionate communications. Skolnick was arrested Saturday, September 14, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As an associate principal of a Bronx private school, one of Jonathan Skolnick’s primary responsibilities was the well-being and education of students. 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. This arrest exemplifies law enforcement’s ability to detect those attempting to use the ‘anonymity’ of the internet to prey on young children.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “A principal at a school plays a significant role in the lives of children, and is charged with protecting and educating them. Now Mr. Skolnick faces criminal charges for his alleged attempts to illegally extort a vulnerable child in a manner that should shock and anger every parent in this community. Members of our FBI New York Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force got information Mr. Skolnick might be engaged in this illicit activity, and acted as quickly as possible to protect other children. We believe Mr. Skolnick may have victimized other teens, and we ask that they call us at 1-800-CALL-FBI. Speaking directly to parents, have a conversation with your children, and please let us know any information you can that will help this investigation.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “Today’s charges serve as a warning to individuals who prey upon some of our society’s most vulnerable population – you will be arrested and held accountable for your actions. I thank the NYPD detectives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District, and the FBI for their work in this investigation. The NYPD will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to end the exploitation and abuse of children in our city and nation and work to bring justice to victims of these heinous crimes.”

According to allegations in the Complaint and statements made in public court proceedings:

Between at least March 2019 and September 2019, Skolnick, who was an associate principal at a private school located in the Bronx, SAR Academy in Riverdale, communicated online with a 14 year-old male victim (“Victim-1”) while posing as several teenaged girls. Skolnick used several purported names in these communications, including “Molly Dejmal,” “Tina Warner,” and “Anna Freed.” In response to requests from Skolnick, posing as the “girls,” Victim-1 emailed nude and sexually explicit photographs of himself to at least two email accounts, including to “mollydejmal@gmail.com” and “girlwholikesyou@protonmail.com”.

In or about June 2019, Victim-1 stopped communicating with Skolnick. In or about September 2019, Skolnick, using the name “Molly Dejmal,” texted Victim-1 from a spoofed telephone number. Skolnick’s messages became increasingly threatening in nature, causing Victim-1 to fear that the person he was communicating with would release the sexually explicit photographs that Victim-1 previously sent. Internet Protocol addresses associated with certain of the messages directed to Victim-1 were registered to Skolnick’s home in the Bronx.

Skolnick, of the Bronx, New York, is charged with one count of production of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; one count of receipt of child pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of child enticement, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; and one count of making extortionate communications, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

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