Rabbi Caught on TV Is Convicted of Seeking Sex With Boy

from the Washington Post

A Maryland rabbi caught in a television sting operation was convicted yesterday of traveling to Herndon for what he thought would be sex with a 13-year-old boy he met over the Internet.

In a written opinion issued yesterday, a federal judge in Alexandria found David A. Kaye, 56, guilty after a bench trial last month in which prosecutors presented evidence of sexually graphic chats between him and the boy. In reality, the boy was a 26-year-old man working for Perverted Justice, a group that tries to expose adults who use the Internet for sexual activity with children.

Perverted Justice was working with the NBC newsmagazine "Dateline," which paid the watchdog group to create a pedophile sting that ran as a series of television reports called "To Catch a Predator." Men lured to the house they set up in Herndon last year also included a schoolteacher from Prince George’s County and a physician from the Eastern Shore.

Kaye, a Potomac resident, is the former vice president of program at Rockville-based PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leaders and Values, an educational foundation that trains Jewish leaders. He resigned in October after informing the organization that he would be featured on "Dateline."

"You know I’m in trouble. I know I’m in trouble," Kaye told NBC correspondent Chris Hansen when he was confronted on camera after traveling to the Herndon house in August 2005, according to the opinion by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris. The judge convicted Kaye on one count of coercion and enticement and one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Kaye, who has been jailed since his arrest in May, faces up to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 1.

U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said he was "very pleased because we’ve always thought the evidence in this case was extremely compelling. The judge’s opinion makes it clear that our case was strong."

Peter D. Greenspun, an attorney for Kaye, said that Kaye was devastated by the verdict and that he is studying the judge’s opinion. "This decision should put anyone who engages in explicit chat over the Internet on notice of the risks involved," Greenspun said. Some defense lawyers have challenged the television sting operations as entrapment, and experts in media ethics have questioned NBC’s decision to pay Perverted Justice because mainstream news organizations typically do not pay sources for their cooperation.

NBC has defended the arrangement, saying the programs have raised public awareness of the growing problem of Internet pedophilia. Cacheris’s opinion said NBC paid Perverted Justice $100,000.

Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, PANIM’s president, said his "heart goes out to David and his family."

Cacheris wrote that prosecutors presented overwhelming evidence during the two-day trial, including outtakes from the NBC show and a log of Kaye’s chats with the supposed 13-year-old. Using the America Online screen name "REDBD," Kaye initiated the chats, Cacheris wrote.

At one point, court documents said, Kaye wrote to the "boy": "You are only 13?"

"Uhh yea," the boy responded.

"That’s rape," Kaye said. ". . . I’ve never been with a young man like you but I would like to."

Defense attorneys argued that Kaye didn’t believe the boy was 13. Kaye, who is divorced, testified that he had had numerous homosexual experiences with adults and thought he was talking to a young adult.

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