A University of Chicago law school graduate who once worked for a top Russian oil tycoon and then crisscrossed the world as an international businessman will find out Thursday if he will spend months in jail awaiting trial on sex-tourism charges.
Kenneth Schneider, 45, who also styles himself as a benefactor to Eastern European musicians and artists, was extradited from Cyprus to Philadelphia last week on charges that between 1998 and 2004 he had sexual relations with an underage ballet dancer in Russia who was under his financial sponsorship.
The indictment also alleges that he continued the assaults after bringing the boy to Philadelphia for ballet lessons in 2001.
"The abuse was extreme, and it was continuous," starting when the youth was 12, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Velez said.
Schneider said nothing as attorneys argued in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia over whether he is a flight risk or poses a danger to society if released on bail from the federal detention center.
Schneider's parents and three sisters have offered to put up the family's $2 million home in Berwyn for bail. Judge Thomas M. Golden said he would rule Thursday.
Defense attorney Joseph P. Green Jr. argued that Schneider could have fled while awaiting extradition from Cyprus, or could have remained in China, where Schneider traveled for business this year.
China has no extradition treaty with the United States, Green said. "If he is trying to avoid returning here, he just has to sit down," Green said.
The criminal case resulted from a civil suit filed against Schneider in 2008 by the youth, now a professional ballet dancer in Arizona. In it, the dancer alleges that Schneider schemed over a period of years to keep the dancer available for his sexual pleasure, and regularly assaulted him in Russia, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.
The lurid civil suit accuses relatives of enabling Schneider's behavior, and seeks monetary damages.
The federal sexual tourism law Schneider is charged under specifically allows defendants to be held without bail.
While Schneider grew up in Berwyn, his entire professional career has been spent overseas. His residence is in London, and "he has contacts all over the world, especially in Russia. . . . He has no real ties to this area," Velez said. At one time Schneider was a director of Aeroflot, the Russian airline, his attorney said.
In court filings, Schneider said that between 2000 and 2006 he had worked for the Russian investment house Millhouse Capital, or its affiliated companies, in a variety of legal roles, including chief international legal counsel and international trade representative.
Millhouse is controlled by Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who made a fortune in the oil business during the Soviet Union's transition to capitalism.
Schneider's resume says he is chief executive officer and president of Aurience Ltd., a London consulting firm "focused on developing new forms of East-West market synergies."
Along with English, Schneider speaks Russian, French, and "basic" Mandarin Chinese.