Thursday, May 25, 2006

Update: Case of Rabbi David Kaye of Maryland

Local rabbi jailed, awaiting trial for sex crime
by Eric Fingerhut, Staff Writer
May 24, 2006
Washington Jewish Week, MD

A federal judge has ruled that a local rabbi caught in a Dateline NBC hidden camera investigation of online sexual predators will remain in jail until his trial on charges of soliciting sex from a teenage boy over the Internet.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan agreed to the federal government's request to not release Rabbi David Kaye, 56, from custody, saying he is "a danger to the community."

"When I read the transcript attached, it's sickening and I believe the government's case is strong," said the judge, according to a report on the WRC Channel 4 Web site. "I do not feel comfortable giving the defendant a release on any terms."

Most recently vice president of program for more than three years at the Rockville-based teen educational group Panim: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values and previously a rabbi for 16 years at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Kaye was indicted last Thursday by a federal grand jury in Alexandria on charges of "coercion and enticement" and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with a minor. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Kaye turned himself in to authorities on Friday.

Considering that Kaye's alleged crimes took place nine months ago and aired on television last November, Kaye attorney Peter Greenspun said in an interview Tuesday that "we were disappointed" in the judge's ruling. He is considering an appeal.

Kaye's is scheduled for an arraignment June 9 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Citing strict rules for publicly discussing federal cases, Greenspun declined to provide any information on Kaye's defense strategy.

"We are going to try the case in the courtroom," he said. "Whatever needs to be said is going to happen in the courtroom."

Greenspun did tell WRC Monday that Kay "has acted in absolutely a responsible manner. He's reacted on his own well before law enforcement did, months and months before law enforcement did."

He declined to elaborate further on those remarks in his interview with WJW.

Kaye's arrest comes more than seven months after he was prominently featured in a Nov. 4 Dateline NBC telecast, part of a series of reports the program has done on online sexual predators.

The program reported that Kaye had set up a meeting over the Internet with someone he thought was a 13-year-old boy ‹ with the intent of having a sexual encounter. The rabbi was then confronted on camera by a Dateline reporter at the Herndon house where the meeting was scheduled to take place.

Dateline had teamed up for the report with a organization called Perverted Justice, a controversial group whose volunteers pose as children online in order to expose potential Internet predators and then turn over chat logs and other information it gathers to the police.

Kaye resigned his position at Panim last October, just a few days before the Dateline program aired. He also resigned his position in Conservative Judaism's rabbinical association, the Rabbinical Assembly.

The divorced rabbi remained in the area, and was seen last month at a communitywide commemoration at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase.

Those who knew Kaye from his two decades as a local rabbi, including leaders and congregants at Har Shalom, reacted last fall with sadness and shock at the report, and said they had never heard complaints of Kaye behaving inappropriately with a child.

Panim lawyer Abbe Lowell said an internal investigation of Kaye's tenure at the organization, completed a few months ago, found "no evidence that Rabbi Kaye ever acted inappropriately at Panim" or "with any Panim participant."

Lowell also said the organization had cooperated with all law enforcement agencies investigating Kaye.

Lowell declined to comment on whether Kaye ever carried on chats while at work with Panim. In the chat transcripts, posted by Perverted Justice on its Web site, Kaye twice appears to have engaged in chats during business hours. During one brief conversation, Kaye says he is "at work now." In the other, he at first says he is "in a meeting" before returning a couple hours later to chat more extensively and set up a meeting.

Panim executive director Rabbi Sid Schwarz declined to comment on the Kaye indictment.

According to the transcripts of the Kaye chats on the Perverted Justice Web site, in which the rabbi identified himself with the screen name REDBD, Kaye sent a sexually explicit picture of himself to his chat partner, and wrote, among other things, that "ive never been with a young man like you but I would like to."

In the Dateline report, Kaye was shown arriving at a Herndon house for the rendezvous. As Kaye sits down at a kitchen table, Dateline's Chris Hansen walks into the room and asks the rabbi why he is there.

Kaye responds, "Not something good. This isn't good."

He then admits he is a rabbi, and says to the reporter, "You know I'm in trouble. I know I'm in trouble. I am not interested in getting in any further trouble."

Finally, after Kaye presses Hansen to identify himself, the Dateline hidden camera operators walk into the kitchen. Kaye looks shocked and stricken with fear, charging toward the cameras and saying, "You've got to stop this, you don't have any right ..." before running from the house.


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