LOWER MERION TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) — A teacher in Lower Merion was arrested for allegedly enticing minors to engage in illicit sexual contact on social media.
Officials say that 31-year-old Jeremy Schobel of Philadelphia created fake social media profiles to obtain sexually explicit images of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18.
He allegedly posed as a 17-year-old girl during this time.
The investigation began in November 2022 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a tip from the social networking app Yubo that a user account named “sophiavan423” was engaged in the online “grooming” of minors.
Yubo provided account information, which claimed that the profile’s owner was a 17-year-old girl. The account also had pictures of a teenager that looked to be approximately that age.
Officials also claimed that an account named “jillmoreno” was a fake, and was created by the same user who owned “sophiavan423”.
Both accounts were associated with the same cellphone number. That number was later connected to Schobel, according to police.
Police allege that Schobel used the two fake profiles to connect with minors as a 17-year-old girl, then obtain sexually explicit photos and videos on Snapchat.
On June 2, 2023, officials were granted a search warrant of Schobel’s home in Philadelphia. Schobel was also brought into questioning by police at that time.
According to police, Schobel admitted to creating both profiles to communicate with underage girls.
He also admitted to enticing photos and videos from the victims and said he had done so for years.
Schobel was an English teacher at Harriton High School but has been suspended following the investigation.
Officials from the Lower Merion School District (LMSD) released the following statement, reading in part:
“Mr. Schobel joined the Lower Merion School District prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. He had no prior record that would have precluded his hiring. While we understand that this is an ongoing investigation, at this time, LMSD is not aware of any inappropriate interactions between Mr. Schobel and LMSD students. Additionally, the District had not received any complaints or concerns from students or staff regarding his conduct in school.”
You can download the full press release here.
In the statement, the school district provided a list of resources for students to use during this difficult time.
School officials also said that according to the FBI, Schobel may have engaged in these illicit activities during work hours using an IP address associated with the Lower Merion School District.
Students at Harriton High School said teachers notified them of Schobel’s arrest on Thursday.
“He (a teacher) read us the scripted email from LMSD that a teacher at the school had some charges against him and the FBI was investigating,” said student Jake Lesser.
Lesser says the news was shocking and a bit scary.
“People were pretty shocked. There’s some teachers that were really upset, scared that it happened in our school,” he said.
Shari Botwin, a trauma therapist, says it’s important for students to talk about what happened, especially if they had him as a teacher.
“Kids become very attached to their teachers, especially when the teacher is engaged. These kids, besides feeling shocked, they probably will feel betrayed, disheartened,” said Botwin.
Counselors will be available at Harriton High School for any student or staff member who needs support, officials say.