A former physical education teacher has been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault on 10 girls in Salem, Massachusetts, police said.
Daniel Hakim, a 36-year-old North Andover resident, was arrested Wednesday afternoon after a six-month investigation, Salem police said Thursday. He appeared in court later in the day to face 32 counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and pleaded not guilty.
All the students Hakim is accused of assaulting were at Salem’s Saltonstall School, where he taught from 2015 until 2018, when incidents involving improper conduct were brought to light and investigated, police said.
Prosecutors said the girls were between 6 and 8 and in the first, second and third grades when Hakim rubbed up against them or inappropriately touched or hugged them, including reaching up girls’ shirts or down pants.
“The actions for which Daniel Hakim has been arrested and charged are abominations,” Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller and Superintendent of Salem Public Schools Dr. Stephen Zrike said in a joint statement.
The judge ordered Hakim held on a $200,000 bail, and if he’s released, he’ll have to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and stay away from his accusers and their families.
Hakim and his wife work out of their North Andover home and homeschool their five children. His family was in the court and had nothing to say as they left.
While Hakim was investigated in 2018 over improper conduct and suspended, then “separated from service at the end of the school year,” the claims were found to not be prosecutable in a Massachusetts Department of Children and Families investigation, Salem police said. It wasn’t immediately clear what wasn’t prosecutable about the allegations.
Hakim’s teaching license was revoked in 2020, according to police, and a year later, a new Saltonstall student told her parents of something Hakim did to her in 2016. An investigation led to Hakim’s arrest on seven charges.
Salem Public Schools held a public forum about Hakim’s arrest at the time, and the subsequent public awareness led to new students speaking to law enforcement about more abuse, according to police. That led to the Hakim’s arrest this week.
“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,” leaders said in their statement. “Additionally, on behalf of our entire community, we are deeply appreciative for the diligence and commitment of the Salem Police CID detective – herself a mother – who took on this important case to ensure that justice was done for these victims, and for the perseverance of the members of the District Attorney’s Office.”
They noted that the ongoing legal case limited them from sharing more information about the “disturbing and concerning” allegations of what happened to the children.
“It has been gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to see, very clearly, the trauma signs,” said Elizabeth Wrenn, a Saltonstall parent and social worker who specializes in abuse cases.