SAR Academy associate principal arrested, fired


Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy said it fired an associate principal arrested Sept. 14 on criminal charges he tricked a 14-year-old boy into sending him sexually explicit images.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation charged Jonathan Skolnick, formerly an associate principal of Judaic studies at SAR’s middle school, with a number of counts related to the sexual exploitation of a minor, extortion, coercion, production of child pornography, and conducting such practices across state lines.

He had been at SAR Academy for a little more than a year.

Documents filed in federal court state that starting in March, Skolnick emailed and texted the minor using spoofed phone numbers — displaying a number on caller ID different than the number the call was coming from. He posed as several teenaged girls who began talking to the boy — first in a platonic way, but increasingly sexual.

Skolnick, posing as the girls, sent the boy photos of “naked females,” according to court documents.

The boy sent nude, sexually explicit images in which his face could be seen to at least two email accounts he believed belonged to girls his own age, according to the documents. When the boy stopped communicating with the “girls” in June, he received messages threatening to make his nude photos public if he didn’t resume communication.

FBI agents used the internet protocol address connected to the messages to track down their origin, according to court documents. That led investigators to Skolnick’s apartment — where they said he lives alone — ultimately resulting in his arrest.

Under questioning, court documents state Skolnick admitted to communicating in a similar way with another 20 to 25 minors.

News of Skolnick’s arrest and firing was shared with SAR Academy families late Monday, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“It is shocking to know that someone who we have trusted with our children has been accused of harming them,” principal Binyamin Krauss wrote to parents, according to JTA.

“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.”

SAR Academy was recently sued in an unrelated case where a school administrator from the 1970s allegedly sexually abused boys. Three former students say the school’s administration were aware of the alleged conduct by Stanley Rosenfeld, but did nothing to stop it.