FEDERAL COURT

Rabbi Sentenced In Internet Sex Sting

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 2, 2006

A Maryland rabbi caught in a television sting operation was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison yesterday for trying to solicit sex from a 13-year-old boy over the Internet.

David A. Kaye, 56, told the judge that he traveled to Herndon for what he thought would be sex with a boy "as a cry out for help to fight my personal demons." Sobbing as he acknowledged his father, who sat in the courtroom in a wheelchair, Kaye said his conviction had made him face "the reality of who I am. . . . I know I need help. I pray that God allows me to get that help."

Kaye's attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, said the rabbi, who was featured last year on the "To Catch a Predator" series on "Dateline NBC," kept his sexuality secret and spent thousands of hours chatting online in search of liaisons.

Kaye thought that he was chatting online with a young adult, Greenspun said. He said Kaye, who is divorced, is in therapy, and he urged a sentence on the low end of federal guidelines, which recommended a term of 63 to 78 months in prison.

"There is a very decent core to this man," Greenspun said.

But U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris in Alexandria settled on 78 months and said Kaye would then face 10 years of supervised release. The judge said that during that time, Kaye will be forbidden to accept any job involving children, and he ordered him to never be around children younger than 18 without an adult present.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Power had called for a tough sentence and said Kaye's conduct was "a crime of violence in which he essentially tried to rape a 13-year-old boy."

U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said the lesson of the case "is pretty simple: Stay away from our children."

Kaye, of Potomac, 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 last year after informing the organization that he would be on "Dateline."

Kaye was convicted in September after a two-day bench trial 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 "Dateline," which paid the watchdog group to create a pedophile sting that ran as a series of TV reports. When Kaye arrived at the Herndon house that the group had set up, he was confronted on camera by NBC correspondent Chris Hansen.

"You know I'm in trouble. I know I'm in trouble," Kaye told Hansen, according to Cacheris's opinion. The judge convicted Kaye on one count of coercion and enticement and one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Other men lured to the Herndon home included a schoolteacher from Prince George's County and a physician from the Eastern Shore.

Some defense lawyers have challenged the TV 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 that the programs have raised public awareness of Internet pedophilia.

Cacheris's opinion said that NBC paid Perverted Justice $100,000.

During the trial, prosecutors presented outtakes from the NBC show and a log of Kaye's chats with the person posing as a 13-year-old. Using the screen name "REDBD," Kaye initiated the chats, Cacheris wrote.


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