Kiryas Joel, NY – More than one week after video of a Kiryas Joel school principal allegedly seen kissing a young boy as he held him tightly in his office surfaced on social media, a statement by United Talmudical academy officlas has been released saying that no criminal activity is evident in the footage.
At least two videos were leaked, with an overhead camera showing the principal sitting at his desk embracing a young boy between his legs, and kissing him repeatedly.
In one of the videos which runs for over 12 minutes, the student can be seen trying unsuccessfully to pull away from the principal. During another encounter, the principal can be seen rewarding the boy with candy from his desk.
An official press release by the the school serving thousands of KJ Satmar students on Tuesday by the board of directors of United Talmudical Academy of Kiryas Joel denies any wrongdoing.
The statement, whose authenticity was confirmed by a Kiryas Joel official, said that the individual seen in the video is a senior school principal with an “unblemished professional record”
who is “a respected Rabbi in our community with over 30 years experience in religious instruction and administration.”
According to the statement, the school principal is said to have earned the respect and support of two generations of UTA students.
The statement said that the videos have been incorrectly categorized as evidence of child abuse by both the media and critics of Kiryas Joel and defended the principal’s actions as part of a normal interaction with students sent to his office for behavioral issues.
“While this type of restraint may be unacceptable to some viewers, it in no way rises to the level of criminal assault.”
The statement also acknowledged that the videos in question were sent to state and county officials over seven months ago, with both the school and the principal cooperating with members of law enforcement in connection with the investigation.
Major Joseph A. Tripodo, commander of Troop F of the New York State Police at Middletown, declined to share any information about that investigation.
Touting the school’s program as a “healthy and rigorous learning environment,” the statement noted that inappropriate conduct between staff members and students was not to be tolerated.
“Child abuse, in any form, is unacceptable. The evidence in this particular case in no way supports this accusation. We stand with our parents, students and staff at this time in defense of our institution and the reputation of our school principal.”
Major Tripodo said that a police hotline received a phone call on May 2nd tipping them off to possible child abuse in Kiryas Joel.
A joint investigation based on that phone call has been convened by the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Monroe, the Orange County Child Abuse Unit and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
“There is an active investigation ongoing which includes reviewing videos that have surfaced and they can share no details of that including just how long the investigation might take because of the sensitive nature of the case,” Major Tripodo told TOT News.
Major Tripodo noted that despite the letter released by the school, the investigation into the incidents is continuing.