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Former Salem gym teacher charged with sexually assaulting 10 female students

A former gym teacher at the K-8 Saltonstall School in Salem was arrested Wednesday on charges alleging he sexually assaulted 10 female students enrolled there between 2015 and 2018, authorities said Thursday.

In a joint statement, police and school officials identified the former teacher as Daniel Hakim, 36, of North Andover, who was charged with 32 counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday in Essex Superior Court and was ordered held on $200,000 cash bail, according to court records. His next hearing is slated for Aug. 8.

Hakim’s lawyer, Syrie Fried, said via e-mail that he “unequivocally denies the accusations against him. They are false, and we will defend this case vigorously.”

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Hakim was a physical education teacher at the school, according to the joint statement, from 2015 until the end of the 2018 school year, when he was “separated from employment.”

In 2018, the statement said, reports of Hakim’s “improper conduct” were brought to the attention of Salem Public Schools officials, who reported them, as required by law, to the state Department of Children and Families, the Salem Police Department, and the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Hakim was “immediately” removed from the school and suspended pending an investigation, the statement said.

The statement said DCF completed its “screening and investigation of the claims,” which at the time, in 2018, were deemed “not prosecutable.” The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education revoked Hakim’s teaching license in 2020, the statement said.

Then last year, the statement said, another Saltonstall student told her parents about “improper conduct by Hakim in 2016.”

Salem police and the Essex district attorney’s office launched an investigation, the statement said, and charged Hakim in December 2021 with seven criminal counts. School officials then notified families about the arrest, held a forum with parents to discuss it, and provided “supports” for students and families affected by Hakim’s alleged crimes.

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The December arrest and outreach to families, along with ensuing news coverage, prompted more students to come forward with reports of “improper conduct by Hakim,” the statement said.

Hakim pleaded not guilty in December in Salem District Court to seven counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and was released at the time on personal recognizance, records show.

The December case involved one alleged victim, according to published reports. He was indicted on the additional counts Wednesday, with nine more alleged victims identified in court papers.

Salem police launched a “thorough investigation” of the new allegations early this year, conducting interviews and gathering evidence over a five-month period, leading to Hakim’s arrest Wednesday.

“As community leaders and, most importantly, as parents we are sickened by the abuse from a trusted adult that these children were subjected to and the ongoing pain and trauma these young survivors and their families are and will continue to face,” said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller, and Superintendent of Salem Public Schools Dr. Stephen Zrike in a joint statement.

“The actions for which Daniel Hakim has been arrested and charged are abominations,” the officials continued. “We are grateful for and applaud the cooperation of the victims and their families, their patience with the detailed investigation, and, above all, their courage in coming forward.”

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Salem Public Schools have been, the officials said, and will continue to provide “ongoing resources for students and families who have been impacted by this incident.”

They said they would not be disclosing more information “both for legal reasons due to the ongoing case and for student privacy.”

They also said that they were committed to the safety and well-being of Salem Public Schools students and prepared to work with prosecutors “to ensure the fullest accountability of the law in this terrible case.”

“This arrest and today’s arraignment show the strength of victims and survivors when they are supported and empowered to step out of the shadows to tell their accounts,” they said.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.