Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 16, 2024

Teacher At Brooklyn School Arrested For Sharing Explicit Images

Winston Nguyen, a math teacher at St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights and former Jeopardy! contestant, was arrested last week, prompting concerns about his criminal past and the school's hiring practices.

The arrest has brought to light the onetime game show hopeful's previous conviction for theft from an elderly couple, as the Daily Mail reports.

Students at St. Ann's School were sent home early after Nguyen, 37, was detained by authorities. Nguyen, who has been teaching at the esteemed $60,000-a-year private school since 2020, is suspected of disseminating explicit images on social media.  Though not yet charged, the Kings County District Attorney's Office is investigating his alleged activities.

Nguyen's Criminal Background

The arrest has raised serious questions about how Nguyen, with his known criminal past, was allowed to teach at the school. In 2019, he served four months at Rikers Island for embezzling $300,000 from Bernard and Florence Stoll, a 96-year-old blind man and his 92-year-old wife. Nguyen manipulated their bank statements and blocked communication from their banks to cover up his theft, using the stolen funds for personal luxuries such as ballet tickets, Broadway shows, and vacations.

The Stolls had employed Nguyen in 2009, and the theft went unnoticed until their daughter-in-law discovered it six years later. Following the discovery, Nguyen was charged with multiple counts of grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and identity theft, but pleaded not guilty to all charges. Despite this background, he was employed by St. Ann's School in 2020.

Nguyen’s hire has led to public scrutiny of the school’s vetting process. A spokesperson from St. Ann's School defended their hiring practices, stating, "A nonviolent criminal record may not preclude employment. The school gives a careful and discerning assessment of a job candidate's potential fit with the school."

Community's Reaction to Nguyen's Arrest

Nguyen was placed on leave immediately following his arrest. In a message to parents, school principal Kenyatte Reid acknowledged the distressing nature of the incident, stating, "This incident is very disturbing to all of us. We pride ourselves on our amazing faculty and a learning environment rooted in trust." He also urged families to come forward with any additional information regarding Nguyen's behavior.

Parents of St. Ann’s students expressed their concerns over the school's background check processes. One parent questioned, "What does the vetting process look like? The idea that this was a person that was close to my children...it's terrifying. I see him as a manipulator and a con man."

St. Ann’s School is now cooperating fully with law enforcement during the ongoing investigation. "We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in their efforts, and right now we're focused on helping our students process this news," added a school spokesperson.

Potential Impact on Students, School Reputation

The incident has had a significant impact on the school community, which includes notable alumni like Lena Dunham, Jennifer Connelly, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Maya Hawk. The school administration is focused on providing support to students as they navigate the troubling news about Nguyen.

The arrest has led to widespread concern among parents and staff about the safety and well-being of the students. The administration has pledged to re-evaluate its vetting processes to prevent similar incidents in the future.

As the investigation continues, the school will likely face questions about their awareness of Nguyen’s previous criminal activities and their reasons for employing him despite his background.

Nguyen's arrest for allegedly sharing explicit images online has not only brought his previous crimes to light but also has called into question the thoroughness of employment screenings at St. Ann's School. The school must now address these concerns while cooperating with ongoing legal processes and ensuring the safety and trust of its community.

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About Ashton Snyder

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