Sioux Falls Doctor Says He Was Blackmailed, Not Trafficking
Against the backdrop of serious charges against a Sioux Falls doctor being dropped, additional information adds more texture to the situation.
One day after Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan dropped all charges against Dr. Jonathan Cohen, a defense lawyer for Dr. Cohen addressed some of the allegations. The statement which was issued by Michael Butler detailed their own findings while investigating the victim.
Among the main points of the release included possible multiple relationships cultivated by the victim in order to extort money. Doubt was raised about the victim’s identity. There were text messages recovered that pointed to an accomplice. Plus, charges were brought against the victim in Georgia for allegedly trying to blackmail another man and cited the Sioux Falls case as an example.
State’s Attorney McGowan could refile charges in the case because the initial charges were dismissed without prejudice.
KDLT News obtained a copy of Butler’s statement which reads as follows:
“Dr. Jonathan Cohen met the female connected to his recently dismissed case on the website SeekingArrangement.com. SeekingArrangement.com has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and CNN. SeekingArrangement.com advertises that it has more than 5 million members and never employs fake profiles. The female registered herself on March 18, 2016. She represented herself as a 20-year-old college student. SeekingArrangement.com requires users to verify that they are over 18 by checking a box before proceeding to develop a profile.
Contrary to the State’s claims that this relationship involved coercion, the defense investigation revealed that the female was carrying on relationships with multiple men for the purpose of blackmail and extortion. Within weeks of Dr. Cohen’s arrest, defense counsel obtained incontrovertible forensic digital evidence from a third party laying out the female’s intent to blackmail Dr. Cohen and her ongoing blackmail of at least one other individual.
Digital forensic evidence established that on October 4, 2016, the female and an accomplice executed their intended blackmail scheme upon Dr. Cohen. Examples of recovered text messages, include “He has lots of money”; “Should I blackmail him”; “Call me n act like my sister”. The female subsequently drafted text messages and directed the accomplice to pose as a family member and send the text messages to Dr. Cohen. The text messages misrepresented the female’s age for the purpose of extorting money from Dr. Cohen. After receiving these messages, Dr. Cohen immediately left his apartment.
The defense investigation also obtained documentary evidence that shortly after testifying before the grand jury in Sioux Falls, the female was taken into custody by the Atlanta Police Department. A man reported that the female was attempting to extort him by making claims that could damage his reputation and was refusing to vacate his property. The female threatened the man by stating that she had put two men in jail for a similar situation, mentioning an ongoing case in Sioux Falls, SD.
When questioned by Atlanta police, the female gave multiple names and birthdates. At the scene, police were able to obtain a mobile fingerprint reader in order to correctly identify the female. The results of the fingerprint examination identified her by a different name than the ones she had given to Atlanta police and Sioux Falls law enforcement. The fingerprint database also identified her birthdate as August 2, 1998, making her 18 years old.”