FBI Says Teacher Hoarded Child Porn

By Sarina Trangle (The Riverdale Press)
May 9, 2012

A former Hebrew Institute of Riverdale youth director stands accused of storing hundreds of explicit child porn files on his home computer.

Evan Zauder, who most recently taught sixth grade at the private New Jersey Jewish school Yeshivat Noam, was released on $2 million bail from the federal court in Manhattan on May 4.

He has been confined to his home and must wear an electronic monitor. He is not permitted to use a computer without supervision, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Zauder, who worked at HIR for one academic year, faces up to 10 years in prison after FBI agents raided his Manhattan apartment and found pornographic videos and images of boys as young as 7 on his Macintosh, according to court documents.

A tip sent the FBI to Mr. Zauder's apartment on May 1, where the teacher admitted he owned the desktop computer agents searched in his bedroom, according to court documents. He was arrested later that evening.

HIR released a statement echoing the sentiments of Mr. Zauder's most recent employer while saying that HIR did not believe Mr. Zauder preyed on children at the synagogue.

"This news is upsetting, however at this time we have been reassured there is no evidence of any further misconduct," the statement read.

Mr. Zauder worked at HIR from September 2010 to June 2011 as a co-youth director, which involved organizing and leading teen services and other general programming for children.

Three days later, HIR released a second e-mail statement letting the congregation know that a synagogue social worker will be available to discuss concerns related to Mr. Zauder's arrest. A list of recommendations for discussing the accusations with children was included. HIR, which is known as the house, or "Bayit" in Hebrew, also invited the congregation to join efforts to reduce, prevent, and treat abuse in its Committee on Children's Personal Safety.

"This sad and unsettling news has given us as a Bayit staff and lay leadership, as well as the whole community, real pause. It is a painful moment that raises many emotions for us as individuals and as a community, especially relating to our paramount concern for the safety of our children," the statement read.

Yeshivat Noam "immediately" suspended Mr. Zauder after learning about the accusations, according to its principal Rabbi Chaim Hagler.

"Yeshivat Noam was shocked and saddened to be informed of serious allegations against one of our faculty members," Mr. Hagler said in a statement. "At the present time, we have no reason to believe that any of our students were involved or directly affected. The safety of our students is our primary concern and Yeshivat Noam has zero tolerance for inappropriate or illegal behavior."

Mr. Zauder's attorney, Stephen Flamhaft, did not return a call for comment.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, said his office takes child pornography allegations very seriously. "Protecting children from harm is an important priority shared by our office and the FBI, and we will continue to work tirelessly to pursue and prosecute individuals who prey on the innocent," Mr. Bharara said in a press release.

Mr. Zauder is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, June 4.