Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Update: Case of Rabbi David Kaye - Denies Interest In Teenage Boys

Rabbi caught in sex sting denies interest in teenage boys
AP (The Advocate)
August 23, 2006

A Maryland rabbi caught in an Internet watchdog group's nationally televised sex sting took the stand in his own defense Wednesday and denied that he intended to have sex with a 13-year-old boy. David A. Kaye, 55, of Rockville, Maryland, was charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, with coercing and enticing a minor as well as traveling across state lines for illegal sexual contact.

The charges came after a November episode of Dateline NBC in which Kaye was one of 19 men who showed up at a Herndon, Virginia, home after engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with adults from a watchdog group called Perverted Justice who were pretending to be minors. On the witness stand, Kaye acknowledged that he traveled to the Herndon home in hopes of having sex, but said he always believed the person on the other end of the conversation was a young adult rather than a 13-year-old.

During the online chats, Kaye makes several references to the chatter's youth and once tells him, "You are so, so young. I've never been with a young man like you, but I'd like to."

Kaye said he was only going along with what he assumed to be role playing by an adult male. "I was never there to meet a 13-year-old," Kaye said.

Kaye acknowledged that he frequently had homosexual encounters with people he met in online chat rooms, but said none were minors. Even though this chatter said in his online profile that he was 13, Kaye said many chatters fabricate their online profiles for various reasons. Kaye's lawyer, Peter Greenspun, said during closing arguments that "lies on the Internet in this area are the norm, not the exception."

Prosecutor Edmund Power said Kaye's story doesn't make sense when his denials are compared to his actions. Power pointed out that Kaye admitted he was doing "something not good" when a Dateline correspondent confronted Kaye with cameras rolling inside the Herndon home.

But Power said the clearest evidence of Kaye's guilt were his own words during the chat sessions, in which he asks the chatter about his age and hesitates to send sexually explicit pictures of himself to someone so young.

Kaye, who had previously been a rabbi for a Potomac, Maryland, congregation, resigned from his job as vice president of Rockville-based Jewish youth organization called PANIM: the Institute for Jewish Leaders and Values, in the wake of the sting. He said Wednesday that he hid his homosexual activity over many decades from his wife of 30 years and from his congregants.

Kaye is one of several individuals who were prosecuted by federal and local authorities after being caught in the Dateline sting. A former Army sergeant at Fort Belvoir, Joseph J. Wunderler, was sentenced last month to five years in prison on similar charges. Perverted Justice says its efforts have led to more than 60 convictions.

U.S. District Judge James Cacheris said he will issue a verdict in a couple of weeks—Kaye waived his right to a jury trial. Cacheris told the lawyers that the case "turns on the credibility" of Kaye's testimony.

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