2017-08-23 / Front Page

Music School Teacher Pleads Guilty To Federal Sex Charges

By Liz Goff
The Queens music school founder who used a Bronx pimp to find and deliver young children to him to satisfy his twisted sexual needs pleaded guilty last week to federal sex trafficking charges.

Oliver Sohngen, 53, pleaded guilty to the charges in federal court in Manhattan on August 17.
Homeland Security Investigations agents, NYPD officials and city cops arrested Sohngen at his Queens home on May 16 on charges contained in an eight-count federal complaint, including alleged sex crimes against young children, trying to buy sex with girls as young as 8, engaging in sexual contact with teenagers, attempted sex trafficking of girls ages 8 to 17, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and attempted inducement of minors to engage in sexual activity.
Sohngen, who came to the U.S. from Germany with hopes of performing in the Metropolitan Opera, studied at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Music. His Facebook page contains photos showing him playing a keyboard at the music school he founded in 2010, surrounded by happy, smiling young children
It is unclear if any of the children described in the criminal complaint was a student at the school, authorities said.
Department of Education (DOE) officials said Sohngen taught students at city schools beginning in 2012, including P.S. 49 and the East Elmhurst Community School. A DOE spokesperson said all partnerships between the city school system and the music school were dissolved following Sohngen’s arrest.
Police searched the music school and Sohngen’s Astoria home on May 16, but dud not say what, if any, evidence was recovered.
The criminal complaint alleges Sohngen had sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl and 17-year-old girl and contains disturbing texts that were exchanged between Sohngen and the unidentified pimp. Authorities said Sohngen and the pimp used “code words” to describe the girls procured online by the pimp.
Information contained on the pimp’s cell phone during a 2013 arrest led investigators to Sohngen, authorities said.
The criminal complaint alleges that in a series of text messages retrieved from the cell phone by federal agents, Sohngen allegedly agreed to pay $1,600 for various sexual acts with two girls, ages 8 and 13. The pimp directed Sohngen to pick the girls up after school, bring them to a hotel and drop them off afterward at a Harlem “Chuck E. Cheese” restaurant where they would be reunited with their parents, the complaint alleges.
The complaint also alleges the pimp told Sohngen “the Chuck E. Cheese is where the family thinks they’re going.” The pimp assured Sohngen that the parents wouldn’t suspect foul play, because he had paid a 16-year-old family friend to “cover their tracks.”
That meeting never took place, but Sohngen was able to pay for sex with the 15-year-old and the 17-year-old girls, who have since identified him, prosecutors said.
“Sohngen appears to have exchanged text messages with an individual for the purpose of purchasing commercial sex acts with minor girls ranging in age from eight to seventeen,” Special Agent Miguel Collazo of Homeland Security Investigations said in the criminal complaint. “Moreover, on at least one occasion, Sohngen engaged in various forms of sexual conduct with 15- and 17-year-old girls, both times arranged by the same individual,” Collazo said.
Authorities believe the pimp acted on his own and was not part of a widespread sex trafficking operation, a law enforcement source said.
The complaint also alleges that some time between late 2015 and early 2016, Sohngrn started talking with an undercover NYPD officer pretending to be a 15-year-old girl. During those conversations, he allegedly tried to arrange to meet the girl for “oral sex and other sexual contact,” the complaint alleges.
Sohngen, a married father of two, including an 8-year-old daughter, is facing life behind bars when he is sentenced on November 27.

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