Two Orthodox groups that aid disabled children are downplaying their ties to a prominent undocumented immigration activist who has been accused of downloading child pornography.
Roy Naim was accused on September 18 in federal court in Brooklyn with admitting to agents during a search of his house that he had child pornography on his laptop. According to the criminal complaint, Naim, who was profiled in a June 2012 Time magazine cover story on undocumented illegal immigrants, said that he had been viewing and downloading child pornography for years. He was released September 19, on a $250,000 bond.
In online profiles, Naim claimed he had worked from 2003 through 2008 at Camp Simcha, a camp for ill Orthodox children that was run by the group Chai Lifeline. The profiles said Naim was a “division head” at the camp. Naim also claimed to have worked as a running coach at the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, a network of Orthodox schools for disabled people, and as a motivational running coach at Yachad, an Orthodox service agency for disabled people.
Hank Sheinkopf, an external spokesman for Camp Simcha, said that the camp is in the process of deciding whether to contact people whose children may have been in contact with Naim about his indictment.
“Camp Simcha has had no contact or involvement with this individual for more than five years,” Sheinkopf said of Naim.
Naim has dozens of friends on the social networking site Facebook who describe themselves as having formerly worked at Camp Simcha.
Mayer Fertig, a spokesman for the Orthodox Union, of which Yachad is a constituent agency, said that, to the best of his knowledge, Naim’s interaction with Yachad was restricted to one 48-hour period in January 2010, when he volunteered at a fundraising program.
“This guy, on this one occasion, had a role as a motivational coach,” Fertig said. He added that Naim likely interacted with adults, and not children, during that fundraiser. “We’ve not heard of any problems. We have alerted our staff; our staff is aware of it. If anything were to come to our attention, we’d take any appropriate measure.”
HASC did not respond to a request for comment. On his LinkedIn page, Naim described his role at HASC as coaching a charity running team for three months over the phone and via email as the team prepared to run a marathon in Miami.
Richard A. Finkel, Naim’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
According to a criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn on Sept. 18, investigators with an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security pursuing child exploitation cases found Naim by tracing an email address that had received child pornography from a person in Louisiana. That email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, was traced to Naim’s home. Officers from DHS and the New York Police Department searched Naim’s house September 16, according to the complaint. That day, Naim posted two public messages on his Twitter account. At 2:04 p.m., Naim Tweeted: “Sometimes you try so hard and still get slapped harder. Sometimes you just wanna give it up. It is painful. It hurts.” Four minutes, later Naim wrote: “Giving it up….”
According to the complaint, Naim told officers during the search of his home that he had viewed and downloaded child pornography for years, and that his laptop contained child pornography.
Naim’s release was allowed on the condition that he surrender his passport, remain at his home except for religious services or other approved activities, not use a computer and not communicate or be in contact with anyone under 18, except in the presence of that person’s guardian.
It’s unclear how the allegations against Naim will affect his immigration status.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.