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SF Doctor Arrested For Human Trafficking

Kealey Bultena

A Sioux Falls doctor is accused of human trafficking after authorities rescued a teenage girl from his home. Officials say they arrested 36-year-old Jonathan Cohen Tuesday after the victim called 911 for help.

Authorities say a 16-year-old from Georgia was reported a runaway in August. Sioux Falls Police Lieutenant Mike Colwill says she met Jonathan Cohen on an internet dating website and traveled to meet him.

"Mr. Cohen arranged for her flight to come from Georgia to Sioux Falls. She spent approximately four days staying with him at his residence where he provided her with food and a place to stay," Colwill says. "The victim stated during that first initial time that she came to South Dakota in September, she was in a sexual relationship with Mr. Cohen."

Colwill says the teenager returned to Georgia and this week came back to South Dakota. The police lieutenant says she and Cohen had an argument, and she called officials.

"I don’t believe she was specifically in danger at the immediate time of the 911 call. Unfortunately she was in a place that she didn’t know. She didn’t feel she had any control over what was going on with her and she needed help, and the only way she could think of to get that help was to call 911," Colwill says.

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
Sioux Falls Police Lt. Mike Colwill

Colwill says Cohen faces charges of human trafficking, promoting or procuring prostitution, sexual exploitation of a minor, and solicitation of a minor.

Colwill says human trafficking charges include some element of prostitution.

"And then some kind of coercion on the part of the defendant, where the defendant basically has all of the power in the situation and, unfortunately, the victim doesn’t feel like they have any power or any ability to make those decisions as to what’s going on in that relationship," Colwill says.

Colwill says he can’t get into specifics on what was exchanged for sex acts. He says authorities are working through digital evidence on cell phones and laptops.

Colwill says investigators don’t have indications now but other victims may exist.

Sanford Health officials confirm Johnathan Cohen is a medical doctor. They say he’s been placed on administrative leave.