Case of Lewis K. Cohen
(AKA: Keith Cohen, Lewis Cohen, Lewis Keith Cohen)
Professor of Comparative Literature - University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Convicted after being charged with using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement-exposing sex organs. Cohen used his work and home computers to engage in sexually explicit conversations with a 14-year-old boy in Internet chat rooms. The complaint also charges that Cohen sent nude photographs of himself and other males to the boy via e-mail.
Cohen is currently incarcerated.
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Table of Contents:
- UW professor charged with Net sex crime (03/24/2005)
- UW Felon Still Working On Campus (09/19/2005)
- UW Panel Hears Professor Appeals (12/11/2005)
- Wisconsin State Sex Offender Registry (04/23/2006)
- Update on UW-Madison employees convicted of felonies (04/07/2006)
- Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry (11/06/2013)
- National Sex Offender Registry (11/06/2013)
UW professor Charged with Net sex crime
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - March 24, 2005
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - March 24, 2005
A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor was charged with using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement-exposing sex organs.
According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Lewis K. Cohen, 59, of Madison used his work and home computers to engage in sexually explicit conversations with a 14-year-old Greendale boy in Internet chat rooms. The complaint also charges that Cohen sent nude photographs of himself and other males to the boy via e-mail.
If convicted on both counts, Cohen faces up to 50 years in prison.
The boy's mother found the e-mails and called police in early March.
The boy told investigators he stopped chatting with Cohen after getting the nude photos because the boy thought "it was kind of disgusting."
According to the complaint, during at least one e-mail exchange the boy told Cohen he was 14 years old and Cohen replied, "If you're only 14, we could never hook up, but it might be fun to keep chatting."
Cohen never had any physical contact with the boy, according to the complaint.
Milwaukee police went into the chat rooms under the boy's user name and continued conversations with Cohen. On March 15, Cohen agreed to meet the boy at a sandwich shop in the 3900 block of S. 76th St., where he was arrested, the complaint says.
UW Felon Still Working On Campus
27 News (ABC) - September 19, 2005
27 News (ABC) - September 19, 2005
27 News has uncovered UW-Madison literature professor Lewis Cohen, a convicted sex offender, works on campus as part of a state work release program and has access to student records.
"To give this person, who's been convicted of a serious crime against children, access to student records, simply doesn't make sense," Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) told 27 News.
"This offender should not be on campus," said Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Burlington).
Kerkman, Suder and several other state lawmakers have criticized UW officials for their allegedly slow response to the felony convictions of Cohen, medical school professor Roberto Coronado and associate medical school professor Steven Clark. Coronado was convicted of several first degree sexual assaults of a child and is serving an eight year prison sentence. Clark was convicted of felony stalking and is serving one year in the Dane County jail.
In July, Cohen was convicted of exposing a child to harmful materials. Court documents state Cohen transmitted nude photographs of himself and other men to a 14 year old Greendale boy, and was arrested when he arranged what he believed would be a rendezvous with the boy.
Cohen's sentence was a probation term, to include thirty days in jail, with work release privileges. A September 7 news release from UW-Madison officials stated Cohen was not teaching any courses, but did not reveal whether Cohen was accessing his court approved work release. Clark's attempt to access potential work release was denied when Dane County Sheriff's officials said there would not be adequate supervision of Clark at his campus job.
Cohen is serving his jail term at the state operated, Community Correctional Center in Milwaukee.
Department of Corrections spokesperson John Dipko told 27 News Cohen's approved work release involves Cohen's commute from Milwaukee to Madison. Dipko said Cohen's work consisted of library duties at the UW-Madison campus' Van Hise Hall.
"Lewis Cohen's work also involves reviewing written samples and entrance applications from prospective graduate students," Dipko told 27 News.
Dipko said the terms of Cohen's probation prohibit him from using computers. Cohen's office computer in Van Hise Hall was seized during a police search earlier this year. Dipko said Cohen's campus work release assignment restricts him to his office.
Dipko said Cohen's work release also involves part time employment at a private law firm.
Suder said Cohen's placement on campus undercuts assurances from UW-System President Kevin Reilly that system officials are prioritizing the issue of the university system's continued affiliation with convicted felons. Reilly appeared before a state committee September 13 and has joined in a call for a state audit of university employment practices, including those pertaining to felons. "President Reilly came in, and claimed things were turning around," said Suder. " Well, clearly this situation was not fixed."
Reilly was unavailable for comment. Cohen's campus work release assignment is in the same building as Reilly's office.
UW-Madison spokesperson Brian Mattmiller had yet to return a call from 27 News by our news deadline.
Dipko said Cohen's scheduled jail release is September 18.
Reilly has said investigations into the potential for firing Cohen, Coronado and Clark are almost complete. Reilly has said state statutes protect a university employee's right to due process and require a criminal conviction to be related to an employee's job to justify a termination.
Dipko said information on Cohen would be placed on the state's online sex offender registry on September 15.
UW Panel Hears Professor Appeals
A Faculty Committee Has Been Swamped After Three Professors Were Fired After Committing Felonies
By Karen Rivedal
Wisconsin State Journal - Sunday, December 11, 2005 (LOCAL, page D7)
Internal appeals of firing decisions are nearly finished for two of the three UW-Madison professors convicted of felonies in recent months, while the process for the third -- jailed stalker Steven Clark -- is just getting under way, university officials confirmed last week.
UW-Madison's administration had moved to fire all three by mid-September, but they remain officially employed pending internal appeals, an option they are entitled to under state and university rules.
One of the three, registered sex offender Lewis K. Cohen, is still drawing his $73,000 salary; the committee expects to make a decision in his case by early January.
"We made a very serious effort to try to do all three cases in this semester," said professor James Donnelly, who leads the nine-member appeals committee that hears faculty disciplinary cases. "But we just couldn't find enough time."
In Clark's case, an appeal request has been made to the committee, Donnelly said, but no hearings have yet been set.
Three convicted faculty
Clark, 52, an associate professor in the Medical School, also failed to convince a judge on Friday to let him out early. Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan denied Clark's motion to be released on electronic monitoring halfway through his one-year sentence for stalking a former girlfriend.
"The judge didn't change anything," Assistant District Attorney John Burr said Friday.
Donnelly's committee completed its hearings and made a decision about two weeks ago in the third case, that of Medical School professor Roberto Coronado, who was sentenced in August to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting three young girls.
The committee presented its recommendation to Chancellor John Wiley, Donnelly said, and Wiley soon will present the finding -- or a different one, if he disagrees with it -- to the UW Board of Regents, university spokeswoman Amy Toburen said Saturday.
Under state law, the Regents make the final decision on any faculty firings. The law also bars the university from firing a faculty member solely on the basis of a criminal conviction; instead, an investigation must be done to prove the offense is related to the person's job performance, and due process rights, including the ability to appeal, must be provided.
Donnelly declined to say whether the committee upheld or denied the administration's decision to fire Coronado, 52, citing rules about confidentiality. He did say that the committee -- which typically would see no more than a handful of such egregious cases over many years -- is eager to complete its work.
"The committee is desperately anxious to proceed with all three cases and to finish them ASAP," Donnelly said.
In the case of Cohen, a literature professor now free after a conviction for exposing a child to harmful materials by sending nude photos of himself and other men over the Internet to a 14-year-old boy, the committee has held hearings, deliberated and is now forming its recommendation.
Process can be tedious
Donnelly said the panel's work can be delayed by scheduling difficulties for committee members and the lawyers who represent the university, the appellant and the committee itself.
Hearings also are governed by many of the same rules that apply to formal court proceedings, whether the alleged offenses involve the outside legal system or not.
"The procedure is not terribly elaborate, but it's elaborate enough when you have 10 or 20 people involved," Donnelly said. "Getting them to act in unison is not the easiest thing in the world."
State rules govern the appeals procedure, and certain due-process rights are provided to all public employees -- not just university faculty -- including constitutional property rights to their salaries.
But university rules differ from those for most other state employees in one important respect. Other agencies fire employees first and provide back-pay later if appeals prove that the decision to dismiss was wrong; university rules mandate that most employees continue to be paid -- and in most cases be allowed to keep working if they are able to -- until the appeals process is over.
That's why Cohen is still being paid. The other two professors are not getting paid while their appeals proceed only because they are imprisoned and therefore cannot work, university officials have said.
Cohen, 60, finished a 30-day sentence for his crime on Sept. 18. The university decided to bar him from campus three days before that, ending a work-release arrangement with the Milwaukee County Jail in which Cohen had worked on campus, but away from students, officials said.
A special committee of the UW Board of Regents is now considering possible changes to the employee disciplinary process, including a provision to suspend pay for professors charged with or convicted of serious crimes while appeals proceed. Committee members also are looking at ways to speed up university investigations in such cases while retaining due process and appeals rights.
Status of the cases
Steven Clark Position: Associate professor in the UW medical school.
Crime and sentence: One year in jail, which Clark began serving June 23. Clark was convicted of stalking a former girlfriend.
Job status: Clark is on unpaid leave while his appeal of the university's decision to fire him continues. The appeals committee has yet to schedule hearings on his case.
Roberto Coronado Position: UW medical school professor.
Crime and sentence: Serving eight years in prison. Coronado pleaded no contest on March 28 to two counts of repeated sexual assault of a child and one count of first-degree sexual assault of a child; he was sentenced in August.
Job status: Coronado is on unpaid leave while his appeal of the university's decision to fire him continues. The appeals committee finished with his case and issued a recommendation about two weeks ago to Chancellor John Wiley, who is expected to ask for a final decision by the UW Board of Regents soon.
Lewis Cohen Position: Professor of comparative literature.
Crime and sentence: Finished a 30-day jail sentence on Sept. 18. Cohen pleaded no contest to one count of exposing a child to harmful materials.
Job status: Cohen continues to be paid while he appeals the university's decision to fire him; he is barred from campus and is not working for the university. The appeals committee has finished its hearings and expects to issue a recommendation for the chancellor's consideration by early January.
Wisconsin State Sex Offender Registry
April 22, 2006
Registrant: LEWIS K COHEN
DOC ID#: 00482918
Alias(es): KEITH COHEN, LEWIS COHEN
Gender: M Race: WHITE Age: 61
Eye color: UNAVAILABLE
Hair color: UNAVAILABLE
Photo(s) Taken: 09/21/2005
Offense Requiring Registration
Conviction date: 07/27/2005
Conviction county: MILWAUKEE
Conviction state: WI
Criminal code: 948.11: Exposing a Child to Harmful Materials
Sex Offender Registry Status
Registration begin: : 07/27/2005
Registration end: 07/27/2022
Compliance status: COMPLIANT
Note: Compliance indicates whether offender has responded to last contact letter from Sex Offender Registry Program.
Contacts: If this is an emergency, contact your local law enforcement agency. If you have concerns, corrections or questions about the registrant information on this page, please contact an appropriate authority listed below.
Institution currently supervising offender:
OAKHILL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 938
OREGON, WI 53575
Sex Offender Registry Program:
DOC SORP ADMINISTRATION
3099 E WASHINGTON AVENUE
MADISON WI 53704
Sex Offender Registry Office
Update on UW-Madison employees convicted of felonies
University of Wisconsin - April 7, 2006
From UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell:
"The University of Wisconsin-Madison has reached closure today on three extremely rare and arduous personnel cases involving faculty members convicted of felonies.
The UW System Board of Regents voted today to dismiss Lewis Cohen, a professor of comparative literature, upon the recommendation of Chancellor John Wiley. In addition, on April 4, the university accepted the resignation of Steven Clark, associate professor of human oncology. He will resign effective Aug. 15, 2006, and will continue to receive no salary or benefits from the institution. This decision eliminates the need for a costly and time-consuming internal hearing and serves to immediately sever ties between Clark and the university. The dismissal of Roberto Coronado, professor of physiology, was accomplished in February.
The university community shares in the anger over the crimes committed by these people and we regret the impact they had on some individuals personally and on campus morale in general. To that end, we are grateful to those who worked diligently on campus to resolve these cases. The process worked as designed to protect individual rights while simultaneously allowing the institution to pursue the course of action it felt appropriate.
There is also recognition that state rules on faculty discipline need to be reexamined with an eye toward creating faster resolutions when possible. UW-Madison will continue to work with a Regents committee on this matter through shared governance to identify reforms that will expedite the process while maintaining due process rights."
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