EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. — He's a rabbi with a prior conviction for sexually abusing a minor. Now, he's accused of being connected to two other adults in sex trafficking an underage prostitute.
Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, 35, was arrested with Gabriella Colon, 18, and Richard Ortiz, 23, by investigators from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, East Brunswick Police and Middlesex County Sheriff's Office.
Officials said that Colon and Ortiz sold the sexual services of a 17-year-old girl from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to about 30 men at a hotel in East Brunswick from Jan. 1 to Feb. 2 of 2018.
The rabbi was one of the men who engaged in sexual relations with the 17-year-old during that time, according to the investigation.
"I just can't believe it would happen here," said one of Goodman's neighbors in East Brunswick, who did not want to giver her name, "and that it's religious affiliated is even more sad," she told PIX11 News.
Goodman, who runs a religious learning center out of his home on Beacon Hill Drive here, has been charged with one count of engaging in prostitution with a child and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He turned himself in to police at the East Brunswick Police Department on Feb. 6.
Neighbors told PIX11 News that they were familiar with a previous conviction that Goodman had. In 2015, he’d served prison time for indecent assault on a child under age 13. The crime had taken place when Goodman was in his late teens.
“It's upsetting to hear that it's more than that,” one neighbor told PIX11 News. Another said that they’d gotten a text from another neighbor on Monday morning reading, “Here we go again.”
Ken Streisand has lived across the street from Goodman “for many years,” he said.
“His wife is a very lovely person,” Streisand told PIX11 News. “The kids are very nice. If this has happened, I just feel sorry for her.”
Colon and Ortiz, both from the Bronx, were arrested at a motel in Fort Lee on Feb. 16, and are being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick.
They have been charged with 11 criminal counts including human trafficking, promoting prostitution of a child, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal restraint, and a number of child pornography offenses including the manufacturing, distribution and possession of pornography.
The investigation is ongoing. Anybody with information is asked to contact Detectives Chris Farrace or Dan Unkel of East Brunswick Police at 732-390-6900, or Detective Mark Morris of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-4194.