Rabbi resigns after NBC links him to Web sex sting

washington | An official with an educational program for Jewish high school students has resigned after allegedly searching the Internet for liaisons with underage boys and sending naked pictures of himself.

Rabbi David Kaye resigned from Panim on Monday, Oct. 31, informing leaders that he was to be featured on “Dateline NBC” last week for seeking a sexual encounter with an underage boy in a chat room.

“He told me he was going to be on a program on national television that would identify him engaging in inappropriate behavior,” said Rabbi Sid Schwarz, founder and president of the Washington-based Panim: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values.

Panim has never received a complaint against Kaye and he is not accused of doing anything in relation to his work there. But the incident is likely to revive concerns about the possibility of sexual misconduct between rabbis and other Jewish officials who come into contact with minors.

NBC News conducted a sting in August, working with a group called Perverted Justice. Members of the group, posing as underage boys and girls, entered Internet chat rooms and waited for adults to engage them in conversations, said Chris Hansen, the NBC reporter on the story.

Kaye and others allegedly spoke to the presumed children about sex and suggested meeting them. Kaye allegedly sent one individual naked pictures of himself, said he was gay and arranged a meeting at a Northern Virginia home where the “boy” said he lived, which NBC had equipped with hidden cameras.

When he arrived, he was confronted by Hansen.

“He admitted to being a rabbi,” Hansen said. “He then got very agitated.”

Kaye refused to comment this week on his resignation or any of the accusations against him. Hansen said Kaye had agreed at one point to speak with NBC News, but only if the network did not air his name or face. The network refused.

Sexual abuse by clergy has been a national issue in recent years, stemming largely from accusations in the Catholic Church.

But there have been cases that have roiled the Jewish community.

Rabbi Baruch Lanner, an Orthodox Union official, is serving seven years in prison for sexually abusing a student when he was principal of Hillel Yeshiva High School in New Jersey. Lanner was accused of molesting more than 20 teenage girls over a period of 30 years, and physically and verbally abusing boys. But he was convicted on just one account.