Coach culled nude pix from boys, cops say Monday, July 21, 2008
BY JASON TSAI STAFF WRITER
RIVER EDGE — A former middle school basketball coach convinced at least four teenage boys into taking naked pictures of themselves by claiming that a group of blackmailers already had nude shots of the boys and their families, authorities said today.
Adam Melzer, 34, of Teaneck, told the former Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey students that the blackmailers used telephoto lenses to shoot the boys naked in their homes, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.
Melzer, who was a basketball coach at the school, told the boys the only way to prevent the group from publishing the photos was for the boys to take naked pictures of themselves with digital cameras that Melzer supplied, Molinelli said.
Melzer claimed he would forward these pictures onto the blackmailing crew, and the crew members would in return give him the pictures they had taken of the boys and their families, authorities said.
All four boys took photographs of themselves and gave them to Melzer.
Joseph Macellaro, chief of detectives for the Prosecutor’s Office, said he was unsure of how many photos Melzer collected.
“He used his position of authority and respect to gain access to very personal photographs,” Molinelli said Monday.
School and law enforcement officials said Melzer told the ruse to two separate pairs of boys in 2006 and 2007. All four, who were between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time, were recent graduates of the Kinderkamack Road school.
Melzer, who had been their basketball coach while they were students, took them on as volunteer referees after graduation, authorities said.
The school’s dean, Rabbi Schmuel Goldstein, said he was shocked by the allegations and described Melzer as popular and well-liked. Melzer was a coach the past four years and had already decided not to return next year for scheduling reasons, Goldstein said.
“There were never any accusations while he was coach,” Goldstein said. “Certainly if there were any concerns we would’ve responded quickly.”
Melzer, who is married, turned himself into county authorities Friday at the Prosecutor’s Office’s office in Paramus, authorities said.
He was released after posting $50,000 bail, authorities said. Melzer is charged with four counts of child endangerment and is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court this afternoon, authorities said.
Calls made to his Briarcliff Road home were not immediately returned Monday.
Molinelli said Melzer also told his victims that the fictitious crew also sought pictures of the boys’ sisters and mothers in various states of undress.
The investigation began recently after one set of victims heard the other set speaking about the Melzer incident. All four are now high school students, though authorities wouldn’t specify at which schools.
“It’s definitely out of the ordinary. I haven’t seen this before,” the prosecutor said. “But in the area of sexual predators, I’m never surprised.”