Syracuse All Saints Elementary warns students may have been victims in federal child-porn case
By Patrick Lohmann
March 21, 2016
SYRACUSE, NY -- Parents of students at All Saints Elementary School were told late Monday that their students may have been victims of "criminal activity" allegedly committed by an employee recently charged in a child pornography case.
The letter, which was obtained by Syracuse.com, said the FBI told staff Monday morning that "there may be additional victims of Miss (Emily) Oberst's criminal activity, including students at All Saints" and that some parents may be contacted by the FBI. Oberst was also fired "effective immediately," the letter said.
Oberst was charged over the weekend for allegedly allowing a 40-year-old man to sexually exploit a 16-month-old child. It was later learned she worked at the elementary school and began volunteering there beginning at age 15. Her mother is also a teacher at the school, according to the school's website.
School officials declined to comment despite repeated requests Monday, and the letter was the first contact parents had after news of Oberst's arrest became public on Saturday.
The letter said officials could not confirm the identities or the number of students who may be involved.
The full text of the letter is below.
As you may have learned over the weekend, and as reported on Syracuse.com, a part-time All Saints Elementary aide, Emily Oberst, was arrested and charged with sexual exploitation of a sixteen-month-old child. Miss Oberst has been terminated from All Saints, effective immediately.
We are cooperating with the authorities. Unfortunately, this morning in a meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we learned that there may be additional victims of Miss Oberst's criminal activity, including students at All Saints. At this time, we can neither confirm the identities nor the numbers of students who may be involved. In this regard, some of you may be contacted by the FBI in connection with its further investigation.
We will keep you informed as we obtain additional relevant information.
All Saints Elementary Board."
Oberst of Syracuse is accused of helping Jason Kopp, 40, of Liverpool, to sexually exploit a baby girl, according to federal prosecutors.
Oberst also allegedly sent explicit photos of the child to Kopp, including one labeled "4 John March 16." John was the pseudonym of an investigator who authorities say caught Oberst and Kopp.
FBI Special Agent Alix Skelton detailed the investigation into Kopp and Oberst in court documents filed Saturday. Skelton, other agents and an officer with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department-FBI Child Exploitation Task Force conducted the investigation.
On March 4, an undercover federal officer began texting with a user called "daymein39" on Kik, a popular anonymous messaging app, Skelton wrote. During the conversations, the officer posed as a man named John.
The user daymein39 displayed the initials "JK" with his messages, Skelton said. Investigators confirmed the user was Kopp, Skelton said.
The Kik conversations took place over the course of two weeks -- ending on Friday. During that time, Kopp told the officer a female acquaintance had allowed him to have illicit contact with a baby girl, Skelton wrote. The FBI later identified Kopp's acquaintance as Oberst.
Kopp sent the officer "lewd and lascivious" photographs of the girl and told the officer he had sexually abused the child, Skelton wrote.
To prove to the officer that his actions were real, Kopp asked Oberst to take a photo of the baby with a sign that included the name John -- the name the officer was using, Skelton wrote.
Oberst took an explicit photo of the girl on March 16 with a sign that read "4 John March 16," Skelton wrote. Oberst sent the photo to Kopp through Kik, and Kopp shared the photo with the officer, wrote the special agent.
Oberst told investigators she took about 50 explicit photos of a baby and sent the photos through Kik to a man named "Jason," Skelton wrote. Oberst said she could not remember Jason's last name, but said he went by the name "Daymein" on Kik, according to court documents.
The defendants waived their right to a detention hearing in federal court on Saturday, court documents show. They are being held at the Onondaga County jail with no bail.
The school is an independent elementary school that opened in September 2006 in Tipperary Hill after the closing of nearby St. Patrick's School by the Catholic Diocese.