UPDATE: This article was last updated at 2:50 p.m. EDT Thursday to include more details about the investigation. For more up-to-date coverage, click here.
(JTA) — Federal agents searched the New York Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel for the second time in the past two months, this time targeting a yeshiva and the town’s public safety building.
According to multiple news outlets, investigators from the FBI, Sullivan County District Attorney’s office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms searched locations throughout the town on Thursday. The Journal News reported that at least seven law enforcement officials were observed carrying items out of a building belonging to the United Talmudical Academy, whose principal was caught kissing male students in two separate video clips that were recently circulated.
According to the Journal News, the Satmar school’s board of directors issued a statement Tuesday defending the principal.
“While this type of restraint may be unacceptable to some viewers, it in no way rises to the level of a criminal assault,” the statement said.
It is not clear whether Thursday’s raids were related to the videos. In March, FBI agents raided schools in the village — as well as in nearby Rockland County — in connection with their use of the federal E-rate technology subsidy program. Also in March, a United Talmudical Academy facility in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn was raided, reportedly on suspicion of defrauding the federal school lunch program.
Kiryas Joel is run by a Satmar faction led by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum. The United Talmudical Academy in Brooklyn also is Satmar-affiliated.
The office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined the Journal News’ request for comment about Thursday’s raids.