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PHILADELPHIA—Kenneth Schneider, 46, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for charges of traveling for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Schneider was convicted by a federal jury on October 1, 2010.
In the summer of 1998, Schneider, founder and president of the Apogee Foundation, traveled to Moscow, Russia, where he told two ballet instructors at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography that he was willing to provide “assistance” to students attending the academy. The instructors identified a 12-year-old student whose family could no longer afford to pay his board. Schneider convinced the boy’s parents to allow him to live with Schneider in an apartment a few blocks from the school. Between August 22, 2000 and November 22, 2001, Schneider engaged in a sexual relationship with the victim, bringing him to Philadelphia for a summer program in 2001, then returning to Moscow with the victim in August 2001 to continue the sexual relationship. Schneider was arrested March 27, 2010 in Larnaca, Cyprus.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez ordered Schneider to pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $35,000, pay a fine of $20,000 and complete three years of supervised release.
“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting children from sexual predators,” said Memeger. “When a criminal, such as this one, exploits a vulnerable and innocent child for his own gratification, we will take every step to remove the criminal from the community so that he cannot victimize other children and so that other potential criminals are put on notice that the justice system will not tolerate this type of behavior.”
“This investigation has exposed the disturbing truth concerning those individuals who believe they can victimize children abroad and not be held accountable in America for their very disturbing actions,” said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia. “HSI and our law enforcement partners, here and around the world, stand vigilant to protect the most vulnerable among us, our children.”
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Investigative Committee of the General Procuracy of the Russian Federation, the ICE Attache-Moscow, Russia, and Interpol. Special thanks to the Investigative Committee of the General Procuracy of the Russian Federation, without whose assistance the investigation could not have been completed. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michelle Morgan and Vineet Gauri.
Wealthy U.S. lawyer jailed for 15 years for making Bolshoi Ballet boy, 12, his sex slave for 6 years
A Philadelphia lawyer has been jailed for making a 12-year-old boy from the famed Bolshoi Ballet Academy his sex slave for six years.
Though he was arrested in 2010, Kenneth Schneider, 47, was sentenced on Thursday. He will spend the next 15 years behind bars.
The court in Philadelphia heard the devastating story of how Schneider went to Moscow in 1998 where he met a then-12-year-old ballet dancer named Roman Zavarov.
At the time, Mr Zavarov was studying at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, but his family's financial position was unsteady, so he was going to have to drop out of the program. The court in Philadelphia heard the devastating story of how Schneider went to Moscow in 1998 where he met a then-12-year-old ballet dancer named Roman Zavarov.
Schneider, who is the president of The Apogee Foundation which aims to help gifted young artists, convinced Mr Zavarov's family to let him pay for the boy's tuition. He even convinced them to have Mr Zavarov move into his apartment in Moscow and live with the grown man.
At the trial, Mr Zavarov detailed how Schneider allegedly had sex with him three to four times a week when he was 14 and 15 years old.
CBS News reports that Schneider brought Mr Zavarov back to the U.S. in 2001 when he took him to Philadelphia for a summer dance program. Mr Zavarov is now 25 years old, married, and works as a dancer in Arizona. Schneider maintained his innocence throughout the trial, denying all claims that he had sex with the boy.
The judge did not believe Schneider, however, and was very clear in his statement that Schneider’s behaviour was completely unacceptable, at one point calling the lawyer a 'monster'. In addition to being sentenced to 15 years in jail, Schneider was also ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution for Mr Zavarov's counselling . A lawyer with work experience in both the U.S. and Europe, Schneider established the foundation as a way to encourage 'East-West synergies'.
He is named on their site as a legal, music and drama expert, saying that he has studied as an actor and musician. His brief biography on the site says that he plays instruments from all instrument groups.
It was under the guise of the philanthropic efforts that Schneider allegedly became involved with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, and, in turn, met Mr Zavarov.
Mr Zavarov joined the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 10, after his parents- who were both dancers- recognized his potential talent. He has trained throughout the U.S., and after Schneider took him to Philadelphia for the summer program run by the Philadelphia Ballet, he then moved up to Boston and worked with some ballet greats. One of those teachers was Franco De Vita. 'Roman is endowed with a perfect physique and amazing insteps,' Mr De Vita told Dance magazine. 'He was an excellent student, fully committed. Artistically, he took corrections to heart.' He then moved back to Philadelphia to be closer to his wife Gina, who is also a dancer. He is now a principal dancer at Ballet Arizona, and has been since 2007. His work includes performances in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle and Romeo and Juliet.
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