Around 2:30 a.m. last Thursday, a father in Tempe, Ariz., awoke to the sounds of his 2-year-old daughter crying, so he left his bedroom to check on her.
In his living room was a disheveled stranger — and on the stranger’s lap was the father’s young child.
“I’m your friend,” the man told the father as he tossed the crying toddler onto the couch.
What ensued after the startling encounter, as outlined in police reports, was a 10-minute struggle between the father and the intruder, identified as 34-year-old Oren Aharon Cohen.
As the child’s mother called 911, the father attempted to stop Cohen from fleeing the apartment, police said.
Cohen was able to escape the apartment and made it down a flight of stairs to the complex parking lot before the father caught him. When Tempe police officers arrived, they used a stun gun to detain Cohen because he reportedly resisted officers’ commands.
Police arrested Cohen on charges of second-degree burglary, aggravated assault and kidnapping. Court documents identified him as an Israeli citizen who is in the United States legally with a valid passport.
Police did not name the child or her parents in their arrest report.
After investigating the apartment, police said they discovered Cohen’s shoes in the 2-year-old’s bedroom. His coat was wedged between her mattress and the wall, and his passport was on the floor near the foot of the toddler’s bed, police said.
Police also found that Cohen had used a bathroom in the apartment and drank some orange juice from the family’s refrigerator.
The child’s father said that after the confrontation, they found that the 2-year-old was still wearing the same pajamas and diaper she had been wearing when they put her to bed, according to the police report.
Cohen told police he had been drinking with a friend who lived in the same apartment complex and remembered very little because he was extremely intoxicated, according to the police report.
“Oren advised with 100 percent certainty that he did not perform or engage in any sexual acts with the victim of this incident,” the report said. “Once it was relayed to Oren that the victim in his incident was a 2-year-old female, he became very upset and broke down crying. Oren said he would never hurt a child and does not remember the details of this incident because he was ‘black out drunk.’ ”
What Cohen could remember was seeing and playing with a “midget” in a dark room; his descriptions of this “midget” matched those of the 2-year-old girl, police said.
Cohen is being held at a Maricopa County jail on a $250,000 cash bond. He has told police that he wanted to return to Israel as a result of the incident, according to court documents.
Recorded video of Cohen’s initial court appearance Friday showed him nodding as a judge explained the charges against him — then pleading to explain what had happened, despite a warning that anything he said could be used against him later.
“Yes, but I didn’t do anything so that’s why I want to say something,” Cohen said. “I went to visit a friend. Her name is Carolina. She lives in this complex. We were drinking a lot over there in her house. We went outside — I went outside [to] smoke a cigarette. I guess I got blacked out. I went to the wrong door and that’s why you guys charge me [with] burglary? For going to the wrong apartment.”
Cohen continued, saying he didn’t realize what was happening or where he was because it was dark.
“And I guess, that’s when I saw this midget,” Cohen said. “It looks like a midget and I thought it’s [a] midget.”
Alluding to questions of whether he may have touched the girl inappropriately, Cohen insisted: “I would never do anything like that. My dad is a sex offender. I would never do anything even close to that.”
He asked the judge to allow his friends and family who were “here and not here” to vouch for him.
Cohen will have a court-appointed lawyer, according to the judge. His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 27.