Long Island City music teacher arrested on sex trafficking charges: Feds

Oliver Sohngen, a music teacher from Long Island City, faces eight federal counts of sex traffiking minor children.
Courtesy of nycservice.org
By Naeisha Rose

Oliver Sohngen, founder of the Long Island City Academy of Music, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly engaging in sexual acts with minors and sex trafficking, according to the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

“Oliver Sohngen, a music school teacher, allegedly engaged in disturbing, predatory conduct: preying on minor girls for sex,” said Joon Kim, the acting Manhattan U.S. attorney. “He alledgedly had sexual contact with minor girls at least twice, and attempted to engage in sex trafficking of girls under the age of 14.”

Allegations in the criminal complaint against Sohngen, 52, of Long Island City, included inappropriate text messages with minors ranging from 17 to as young as 8 years old. In the complaint, Sohngen is accused of engaging “in sexual contact with minor girls at the conspirator’s apartment in the Bronx,” Kim said.

The criminal complaint is 33 pages long, including 25 pages worth of text message exchanges involving Sohngen, who also uses the aliases Helmuth Moss and Stephan Weierbach. The music school at 44-02 23rd Street has been operating for 10 years, based on its website.

Sohngen is charged with conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, attempted sex trafficking of a minor and attempted inducement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, prosecutors said.

These acts allegedly took place between March 2013 through January 2016.

One of the special agents working on the case was Angel Melendez, who is in charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of Homeland Security.

“In or about January 2016, Sohngen appears to have used a cellular phone to communicate with an undercover NYPD officer ,who he understood to be a 15-year-old girl,” Melendez said in an affidavit. “Sohngen attempted to meet with the purported 15-year-old girl in order to engage in oral sex and other sexual conduct.”

Police Commissioner James O’Neill commented on the case.

“We remain resolute in working along with our law enforcement partners to identify, apprehend, and prosecute those individuals who prey upon our most innocent victims,” O’Neill said. “I commend the detectives and agents involved in this investigation.”

Also partnering with Kim in the investigation was the Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

“We have a duty to protect our vulnerable youth, and with our partners in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who supports this cruel exploitation,” Clark said.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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