Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, a popular Minneapolis rabbi, was sentenced to three years probation on Wednesday after being caught by police in a child sex sting last year, TC Jewfolk reported.
Cohen’s attorney, Joseph Friedberg, said that if Cohen serves the term of his probation without violation, his current felony conviction may be reduced to a misdemeanor. Cohen must also complete 150 hours of community service and pay $1,286 in fines and fees. Cohen is currently registered under Minnesota’s Predatory Offender Act.
The head of an Orthodox community learning center where Cohen used to work as an outreach coordinator said Cohen will not be allowed to return to his work there.
“The answer is no,” Rabbi Avigdor Goldberger told TC Jewfolk. “He won’t be welcome back. We cut ties with him.”
Friedburg says Cohen is not a threat to children.
“His predilection has been toward adult males,” he said. “The man wasn’t looking for children. He was looking for male companionship. He’s been analyzed and reanalyzed. He’s in therapy and his therapist feels he’s no threat.”
Cohen, a resident of St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb with a large Jewish population, was arrested in February during a weeks-long sting by police. He messaged with the persona of a 15-year-old male, created and managed by police, for a week before making a plan to meet the teen for a sexual liaison, according to police. Cohen was arrested outside the supposed address of the teen he was messaging with.
“I sort of deserve it,” Cohen told police, according to his criminal complaint.
News of Cohen’s arrest was met with shock by people who knew him, including many college students who he mentored and hosted outreach events for.
“He was the at very center of the Jewish community in St. Louis Park, and because of that he has an insane amount of connections,” one participant in Cohen’s outreach program for young Jewish professionals, who asked not to be named, told the Forward in August. “A lot of people are going to hurt from this.”
Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman