Former Riverdale assistant principal pleads guilty to child pornography

GettyImages-531697442-1200×801
Jonathan Skolnick, a former assistant principal at a Jewish day school in Riverdale, faces 10 years behind bars for child pornography.
Photo courtesy Getty

A former assistant principal at a Jewish day school in Riverdale faces 10 years behind bars for child pornography.

On April 5, Jonathan Skolnick, who taught at Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy (SAR), pleaded guilty to child enticement and possession of child pornography.

“Jonathan Skolnick, a teacher and former middle school associate principal, admitted today to reprehensible crimes connected to coercing of his own students, minor children, to sending him nude photos of themselves,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “No parent should ever need to worry about the safety of their children from child predators when sending them off to school; I commend our law enforcement partners for their efforts in bringing Skolnick’s career as an educator to an end.”

According to the indictment, between August 2012 and June 2018 Skolnick worked at a high school in Brooklyn. In July 2018, he became an associate principal at SAR, 655 W. 254th St., where he worked until September 2019.

Over the course of seven years, Skolnick allegedly induced, enticed and coerced minor children to send him nude and sexually explicit photographs and videos of themselves over the internet.

It is alleged that Skolnick communicated online with a 14-year-old boy while posing as several teenaged girls. The former principal allegedly used several fake names in  his attempts to lure the boy, including “Molly Dejmal,” “Tina Warner” and “Anna Freed.”  In response to requests from Skolnick, posing as the “girls,” the boy emailed nude and sexually explicit photographs of himself to at least two email accounts, including to “mollydejmal@gmail.com” and “girlwholikesyou@protonmail.com.”

Then in June 2019, the boy stopped communicating with Skolnick. However, a few months later, in September, Skolnick allegedly contacted him again.

Using the name “Molly Dejmal,” he texted the minor from a spoofed telephone number. Skolnikck’s messages were threatening, causing the boy to fear that his photos would be released online. The boy then reported this to the police, and they traced the IP addresses associated with the messages to Skolnick’s home in the Bronx.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22.

This is not the first time a teacher from SAR has been accused of violating children. The school has been accused of sexual abuse multiple times, including cases in February 2020 and others in 2019.

Since the Child Victims Act was passed in 2019, the number of reported cases have skyrocketed.

The Child Victims Act opened a historic one-year, one-time window for victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse in New York state to pursue lapsed claims. Prior to that, plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred the day a plaintiff turned 22. The enactment of the Act allows plaintiffs, for the first time in their lives, to pursue restorative justice in New York.

In August of 2020, Marsh Law Firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of Thomas Eckmann against the SAR school. The lawsuit alleged that Eckmann was sexually abused by one of the school’s assistant principals, Stanley Rosenfeld and one of its teachers, Rabbi Sheldon Schwartz, all while the school failed to protect him.

Reach Jason Cohen at jcohen@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

More from Around NYC