A lawyer who maintains a home in Berwyn, Chester County, but who lived most recently in Cyprus pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he had a six-year sexual relationship with a teenage Russian ballet dancer.
U.S. Magistrate Lynne Sitarski denied a defense request for bail and ordered Kenneth Schneider held for trial on sex-tourism charges. Schneider appealed the ruling, and a hearing will be held today before U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Golden.
Schneider, 45, had been arrested in Cyprus on March 27 and was returned to Philadelphia on Friday in the custody of U.S. marshals.
An indictment unsealed March 30 said Schneider had traveled to Moscow in summer 1998 and told two ballet instructors at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy that he would provide "assistance" to its students.
The instructors identified a 12-year-old dancer whose family could no longer afford to pay his board, the indictment said.
Schneider allegedly persuaded the boy's parents to allow him to live with Schneider in an apartment near the school.
The charging document alleged that Schneider had a sexual relationship with the boy from fall 1998 until 2004, including when Schneider brought him to Philadelphia for a summer program in 2001.
Yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Velez argued against bail, saying Schneider was a flight risk.
Velez said Schneider had been informed of the criminal investigation in March 2009, and had been traveling to various foreign countries since then.
Court papers said that in the last year Schneider visited Austria, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, India, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, never returning to the United States.
Velez said the extent of Schneider's travels showed he had the resources to live outside the U.S. indefinitely.
But defense attorney Joseph P. Green Jr. said Schneider was not trying to elude authorities.
Schneider specializes in complex international financial transactions and frequently has to travel abroad, Green said.
Green said Schneider returned overseas last year to resume his legal practice so he could raise funds to defend against a related and pending civil lawsuit. (The alleged victim, now 24, lives in Arizona with his wife and filed a federal civil lawsuit in August 2008 against Schneider, his family and the Apogee Foundation, an arts group that supports young performing artists.)
Schneider founded Apogee in New York in 2004.
If convicted of all charges, Schneider could potentially face 78 to 97 months behind bars under sentencing guidelines, Velez said.