On Friday, a federal jury awarded Alicia Cohen $1.5 million for the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father.
That story is so horrifying, though, that just saying “sexual abuse” doesn’t do it justice.
Consider that a warning.
According to the lawsuit she filed more than two years ago, when she was just three years old, her father, a pastor named Ron Cohen (who also goes by “Rafi”), began abusing her. He forced her to perform sex acts on him in their home. Within a couple of years, he began “selling her to others for commercial sex, filming acts of child rape, and selling the pornographic tapes.” This continued until she was 11. At one point in that stretch, a family friend “purchased her virginity” for $2,500.
At another point, Cohen began videotaping his assaults and sending them off to other pedophiles.
The names of these videos were “God Wants You Well,” “A Yogi Meets the Messiah,” and “Freedom From Your Past.” The videos he sent through the mail contained Defendant’s preaching, sexually explicit material, or both.
Ron Cohen’s sex trafficking ring allegedly included other ministers, too. Traveling preachers would stay at their home and assault the child after giving money to her father. She was repeatedly drugged with larger-than-needed doses of Benadryl. One of her assailants once put a gun to her head.
As an adult, when many of those repressed memories began resurfacing in Alicia’s mind, she asked her father about them and she said he tried gaslighting her:
When, as an adult, Plaintiff began to remember acts of abuse that had been suppressed in her memory, she confronted Defendant over the phone. His response was that Plaintiff was possessed by demons. He purported to “rebuke the demons out of [her].” He ended the conversation by saying in a calm, methodical voice: “Remember, Alicia, I never touched you.” Then he hung up the phone. This triggered memories of him saying this after every sexual assault, molestation, and sex trafficking incident.
How was Cohen able to get away with this abuse for so long? A large part of it involved his ministries, she said, which were effectively a cover for his child trafficking ring.
Defendant used his religious façade, and his “ministries,” as a cover for conducting child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking. Some examples have been cited previously: under the cover of “Travelling Ministers Fellowship,” men would travel to the Cohen home to exploit Plaintiff and other children for money; explicit scenes of child sexual abuse were hidden within videotapes of Defendant preaching; and Plaintiff would be brought to ministry “board meetings” to be raped.
These attacks didn’t stop until Alicia finally began menstruating, opening up the possibility of pregnancy. Needless to say, the trauma she endured began to manifest in other ways as she grew up, including acts of self-harm. She is now 41.
All of those recollections I just mentioned are based on Alicia’s memory, which is why there was no guarantee she would win this case.
When the lawsuit was filed in June of 2019, Cohen, as expected, denied everything. He said the allegations were untrue and an attempt to defame him. But on Friday, after a week-long trial, the case finally ended with a verdict in her favor.
But it wasn’t a complete victory.
A federal jury found Ron Cohen liable on five of 14 counts Alicia Cohen lodged against him in a 2019 lawsuit. They were: sexual abuse of a minor, assault or battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
All are charges under Delaware law.
The jury did not find Ron Cohen liable for nine other charges under federal, New Jersey and Florida law — two other states where Alicia Cohen alleges she was raped. Those charges were similar in nature to the Delaware charges.
He’s liable, not “guilty,” because this isn’t a criminal trial. He’s not going to jail. Those five counts resulted in a $1.5 million ruling, roughly half in punitive damages and half in compensatory damages.
Ron Cohen’s attorney says his client wants a new trial. In the meantime, his website is still up with a slew of testimonies and, of course, ways to give him money.
(Thanks to everyone for the link)