A former employee of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, South Hills branch, was arrested for alleged sex crimes that occurred outside of his association with the JCC.
Nicholas Gindele, 25, of Washington County, a program director of the Sarah Heinz House, a member of the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of America, was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children. The charges stem from accusations related to alleged conduct while he was babysitting a 6-year-old, according to the Post-Gazette.
He is being held in jail without bail pending a July 8 preliminary hearing.
“We are pained to learn of the recent allegations made against a former employee, Nick Gindele, related to an alleged incident that occurred outside of the JCC and his employment with our organization,” the JCC wrote in a statement to the Chronicle. “Other than news stories made available to the public, we do not have any other information about the incident or circumstances surrounding Mr. Gindele’s arrest. The JCC has no knowledge or record of any allegations or complaints relating to his employment, nor have we received any inquires or reports related to this individual whatsoever.
“His roles in both our JCC South Hills Early Childhood Center and Day Camp involved being in a group setting, where he and other adults in attendance shared responsibility in the classroom and at camp,” the JCC’s statement continued. “While the allegations against Mr. Gindele are completely unrelated to his role with the JCC, we understand the severity of what is being reported in the media relating to his arrest. As such, the JCC immediately initiated a full and thorough investigation in accordance with internal protocols and procedures. Furthermore, the JCC notified all JCC South Hills Early Childhood and Day Camp families during Mr. Gindele’s tenure between 2018-2022 of this situation and invited those with any additional information or concerns to contact us. The health and safety of children and staff remains our highest priority.”
All employees of the JCC — including full-time, part-time, seasonal staff, interns and independent contractors — “are required to pass a series of federal and state clearances, and to complete multiple training programs targeted toward the protection of children and staff,” the JCC said in its statement. “Mr. Gindele’s employment was compliant will all federal and state requirements and all of his certifications and trainings are up to date and on file. To maintain the highest standards of child safety, the JCC joined the Pittsburgh Aleinu Cohort in 2021 that provides Jewish youth-serving organizations with the education and practical tools they need to prevent child maltreatment. Aleinu is powered by Sacred Spaces — an organization created in 2016 to prevent institutional abuse in Jewish communities.
“The JCC remains committed to work actively to provide a safe environment for all children and staff as we advance our mission of connecting community each day, through every age, inspired by Jewish values.”
Gindele was hired to babysit the alleged victim through Care.com, according to media reports. “We are deeply disturbed by this incident and our thoughts are with the impacted family,” Care.com’s website said in a statement according to KDKA. “We take the safety of our community very seriously which is why we require all caregivers to complete a CareCheck background check before they can engage with families on our platform. A profile on our site belonging to this individual has now been closed and we’ve taken steps to block him from re-enrolling. We are in communication with law enforcement and as this is an active investigation, we won’t comment further.”
The Sarah Heinz House told WTAE that it has fired Gindele.
According to court records, this is the first time Gindele was charged with sex crimes in Allegheny County. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.