A St. Louis Park rabbi was one of several people arrested during an underage sex sting operation held in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, authorities say.
Aryeh Leiv Cohen, 44, was arrested on Feb. 1 after engaging with undercover agents who were posing as a 16-year-old boy on the social networking app Grindr. He was charged Tuesday with two felony counts in Ramsey County District Court.
Cohen, a rabbi and director of youth outreach at Minneapolis Community Kollel, a Jewish learning center based in St. Louis Park, began a conversation with the undercover agent on the app Jan. 24, according to a court filing. The agent mentioned several times he was 16 years old, with Cohen replying, “It’s a little illegal ...” and describing sexual acts.
The agent arranged a meetup in a North St. Paul apartment building Feb. 1. Cohen was arrested by authorities in the parking lot after arriving, according to the filing.
While being taken to police headquarters, Cohen said “I sort of deserve it,” the complaint said. He later admitted to using his Grindr account to discuss sexual activity with an underage male.
Cohen’s arrest was part of a multiday sting by the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force, with assistance from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and North St. Paul police, to combat the online solicitation of and sexual exploitation of children. The operation included posting online ads of young men and women seeking companionship and responding to ads on websites known to seek illicit sexual relationships.
Dozens were arrested in the sting, the BCA said back in February.
Cohen is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 19.