Texas man posing as haredi accused of sexually abusing his nine adopted sons

Chaim Nissim Cohen was accused of sexually abusing a foreign exchange student in 2019 but was allowed to continue raising his sons.

 A NYPD car (illustrative) (photo credit: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
A NYPD car (illustrative)
(photo credit: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

A man who claimed to be haredi was indicted on Wednesday for sexually assaulting several of his nine adopted sons.

The suspect, 38-year-old Chaim Nissim Cohen, born Jeffrey Lujan Vejil, appeared in court on February 24 after eight new charges were brought against him in a period of 24 hours, according to local news source ABC13. 

Cohen ran a successful TikTok account with over 200,000 followers, creating content about his life as a hassidic single father of nine. He frequently showed footage of his children, whose ages range from 8-18, in his videos. He also has three children over the age of 18. 

He was charged in early February with sexually assaulting his 17-year-old son. This charge came while he was already awaiting trial for the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old foreign exchange student in 2019, according to the Houston Chronicle.  

An anonymous call sparks a police investigation 

Cohen's arrest came after a teen called anonymously into a podcast claiming to be Cohen's 17-year-old son and explained how he and his brothers had been abused. According to the Chronicle, he also revealed that Child Protective Services (CPS) had investigated their home eight times and had taken no action. "They were never able to save us," he said. 

NYPD vehicle (credit: REUTERS)NYPD vehicle (credit: REUTERS)

The 17-year-old said that he had been sexually assaulted since he was 11 - only two weeks after he was adopted-and claimed that many of his brothers experienced abuse, too. He claimed to have been making the call on a burner phone, according to the Chronicle, and stated that he was afraid. 

The podcast came to the attention of a CPS investigator who notified the Houston Police Department, reports the Chronicle

"This was a household of boys that were extremely abused and neglected, groomed. They were threatened. They were in fear of their safety, and he utilized a grooming of the community," Harris County District Attorney's Office prosecutor Janna Oswald told ABC13. "His grooming was not just of a child, but also the people around the children in the most offensive way."

Cohen is currently accused of 12 counts of sexual abuse. The indictment itself also stated that he would keep the kids locked in a room for hours and only release them in the late afternoon and that he forced them to do sexual acts. One of the victims, aged 16, said that Cohen threatened him to spray him with pepper spray if he refused to do as he was told. 

Cohen is accused of sexually abusing a student in 2019

Cohen is also facing criminal charges relating to an indecent act that he did on a foreign exchange student from Spain in 2019. As a consequence of those pending charges, he was forbidden from being within 1,000 feet of children, but this mandate did not extend to his adopted children.

"There were so many red flags," said lawyer Sheri Chandler who is representing the Spanish student. "We all suspected that Cohen is a pedophile. It doesn't begin in one day. We all suspected that the other children were being abused."

"We all suspected that the other children were being abused."

Sheri Chandler

Child Protective Services refused to supply information on how many reports were received about Cohen or offer any explanation as to why he was allowed to continue raising the children alone.

Shari Pulliam, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, told the Houston Chronicle that CPS had removed six boys from the home following the initial allegations in early February and that they had been placed in foster care. 

Pulliam did not confirm whether or not there had truly been eight investigations by CPS into the Cohen family, stating that the agency's investigations are confidential, the Chronicle reported. 

With a total of seven complainants alleging that he abused them, Cohen will remain in jail without bond until his next court date, according to ABC13.