DOVER, Del. (AP) – A woman who said her father, a former pastor of a Delaware church, sexually abused her as a child and trafficked her with other men, received $ 1.5 million from a federal jury.
Alicia Cohen, 41, said in her civil lawsuit that Ronald Cohen began sexually abusing her when she was three at the family home in Newark, and then began selling her to other men for sex about two years later, when they lived in Oklahoma. .
She also said her father filmed and sold videos of her being raped and used her “religious facade” and “ministries,” including the nondenominational Miracle Tabernacle, as a cover for child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking.
Ronald Cohen, who has also used the names “Rafi” and “Raphael”, has denied the claims as “false, frivolous and defamatory.”
“Ron was shocked by the verdict,” defense attorney Dan Boyce said Friday. Boyce said Cohen has asked him to file a motion for sentencing in his favor, despite the jury’s verdict, or a motion for a new trial.
He also said that Cohen, who now lives in North Carolina, is in his 70s and dependent on Social Security, and that he is “judgment-proof” based on his finances.
Alicia Cohen’s attorney, Dan Stephenson, said the case was not about money, but about holding Ronald Cohen accountable.
“The central question in the case was whether the defendant raped his daughter repeatedly over the years as a child. The jury clearly said ‘yes’ and awarded compensatory and punitive damages, ”Stephenson said in an email.
According to the lawsuit, Alicia Cohen suppressed memories of her abuse for years.
“Due to the actions of the defendant, the plaintiff has suffered extreme mental, physical, psychological and emotional trauma,” the lawsuit states. “He has spent an enormous amount of time and money seeing doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and other therapists.”
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they make it public, as Alicia Cohen did.
The seven-member jury found Ronald Cohen liable, by the preponderance of the evidence, for several crimes under Delaware law, including incest, sexual extortion, and continued sexual abuse of a child. They also found him liable under Delaware law for assault or battery, inflicting emotional distress, and false imprisonment.
But the jury found in Ronald Cohen’s favor on the human trafficking charges under federal law and the state laws of Delaware, New Jersey and Florida. They also found in his favor with respect to various other alleged crimes under federal, Florida and New Jersey law.
“There was no direct or circumstantial evidence to support her allegations,” Boyce said, adding that the plaintiff’s case was based on experts who “hypothesized” that she had certain characteristics of having been sexually abused.
Boyce also said the judge refused to allow a defense expert witness to offer an opinion that Alicia Cohen’s memories from 30 years ago were false.
Stephenson, Alicia Cohen’s attorney, rejected the notion that it was a “he said and she said” case.
“We brought a mountain of evidence that includes factual, medical and admitted facts,” he said. “We had treaters, treater records and expert witnesses to back up what Alicia said.”