Sex conviction appealed in Supreme Court

Kenneth Schneider, a Philadelphia-area attorney who traveled with a 15-year-old boy to Russia with the intention of sexually abusing him, wants the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his conviction.

A federal jury convicted Schneider in 2010, and his conviction was upheld by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

But on Jan. 4, Schneider filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his conviction.

Schneider claims he was charged outside the five-year statute of limitations, because he was charged in 2010 but his alleged crime occurred in 2001.

Thus, Schneider argues, his conviction and 15-year prison sentence should be voided.

However, federal prosecutors maintain Schneider was charged in a timely manner, because a 1991 federal law extends the statute of limitations for crimes involving the sexual abuse of a minor.

In his appeal, Schneider claims the 1991 law doesn’t apply in his case because he wasn’t convicted of sexually abusing a minor. Instead, he was convicted of traveling with a minor with the intention of possibly sexually abusing him. 

He contends that sexual abuse wasn’t an “essential ingredient” of his conviction, thus the extended statute of limitations doesn’t apply in his case.

Schneider also notes that courts in other areas of the country have upheld a five-year statute of limitations for crimes similar to the one he was convicted of.

If the Supreme Court rules in his favor, Schneider would be released from prison. Currently, he isn’t scheduled for release until April 21, 2023.

Schneider allegedly molested the boy for six years, beginning in 1998 when the boy was 12. He met the boy while working in Moscow, and subsidized his studies at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

It’s PGN’s policy to not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The victim said he had hundreds of sexual contacts with Schneider, but Schneider denies having any sexual contact with him.

In August 2001, Schneider and the boy traveled together from Philadelphia to Moscow after the boy attended a summer ballet program in South Philadelphia while Schneider visited relatives in Berwyn.

Prosecutors contend the joint trip to Moscow was part of Schneider’s overall strategy of sexually abusing the boy.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said there’s “overwhelming” evidence that Schneider sexually abused the boy.

The panel specifically rejected Schneider’s claim that he was charged outside of prosecutable time limits.

Howard J. Bashman, an attorney for Schneider, expressed optimism that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the case.

“This case meets the criteria for U.S. Supreme Court review in my opinion, and in the opinion of other experienced attorneys,” Bashman told PGN. “I’m optimistic that the court will take a careful look at it.”

Bashman said his client’s case involves an important legal principle.

“Federal appeals courts have been divided over the statute-of-limitations issue [we’ve raised], which is why it’s necessary for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear and resolve the case,” he added.

Schneider, 51, remains confined to a federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J. He wasn’t available for comment.

Patricia Hartman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said the agency would file a formal response, and declined additional comment. 

Newsletter Sign-up
Previous articleOut & About: Jan. 15-21
Next articleAspen Gay Ski Week: fun and civil rights
Tim Cwiek has been writing for PGN since the 1970s. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from West Chester State University. In 2013, he received a Sigma Delta Chi Investigative Reporting Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting on the Nizah Morris case. Cwiek was the first reporter for an LGBT media outlet to win an award from that national organization. He's also received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Newspaper Association, the Keystone Press and the Pennsylvania Press Club.