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,
was charged in U.S. district court in Alexandria,
Va., 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, Va., 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 with
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, Md., congregation, resigned from his job as
vice president of a Rockville-based Jewish youth
organization, 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, Va.--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