Aryeh Cohen, 44, of St. Louis Park, was among those arrested along with several others in the undercover operation, which was carried out in the lead-up to the Super Bowl at various locations around the metro, including North St. Paul, criminal charges say.
He was charged in Ramsey County District Court Tuesday with one count of soliciting a child or someone believed to be a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct, as well as an additional count of engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child.
A spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Community Kollel, where Cohen served as a rabbi and director of youth outreach, said the community just learned of the “disturbing” allegations facing Cohen Tuesday and was stunned.
“We have never received a complaint about Rabbi Cohen from anybody on any thing, and so the Kollel is shocked,” Amy Rotenberg said.
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Minnesota rabbi charged in child sex sting operation
Aryeh Cohen, who worked in student outreach, allegedly communicated with federal agent posing as 15-year-old boy
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen faces two felony counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing conduct with a child, the Pioneer Press reported.
Some 17 people have been charged in recent days in the undercover operation.
In most of the cases, the men responded to ads posted on Craigslist by undercover agents posing as young women or men seeking a hook-up.
Cohen, 44, who has no prior record, was arrested in February outside an apartment in North St. Paul, where the federal agent posing as a 15-year-old boy suggested they meet after a week of communicating through a hook-up site, the Forward reported.
Cohen was the director of outreach for the Minneapolis Community Kollel, an Orthodox community center that offers seminars and classes on Jewish texts and religious life. He ran the Kollel’s JWAY program for college students and recent graduates. He and his wife, Adina, also led private text studies with male and female students at the Hillel on the University of Minnesota campus, according to the Forward, though he was not employed by Hillel.
Cohen’s name was removed from the Kollel’s website.
The rabbi will appear in court in September. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.