Former Charlotte synagogue leader pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor

CHARLOTTE — A former leader of the largest synagogue in the Carolinas pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Evan Wilkoff served as president of the Temple Beth El for two years up until June 2020.

Court records show the crimes happened after his time as president at the synagogue and did not involve anyone from the congregation.

Wilkoff, 56, was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and will be a registered sex offender for 30 years for the crime of having video and pictures of children being sexually abused.

Prosecutors said in November 2020, a cybercrimes unit made a hit on Wilkoff’s IP address.

His laptop contained more than a dozen videos and more than 500 pictures. Some videos showed minors being sexually abused, prosecutors said.

Several specific search terms were used on his computer with one video labeled “10-year-old Latin girl,” which was opened on 10 different dates.

“Sadly, I’m not surprised,” said Shawna Pagano, with Pat’s Place Advocacy Center.

Those types of cases happen more than some may expect, she said.

“Oftentimes, those viewing the images, those harming children, are not the people that we necessarily expect,” Pagano said. “It’s not a stranger. It’s a neighbor, a teacher, a clergy member.”

Wilkoff was the former president of Temple Beth El on Providence Road before the crimes happened.

Officials with the temple said Monday in a statement, “This was a private matter, and there was no connection between what Evan was accused of doing and his involvement in (Temple Beth El).”

Wilkoff apologized in court Monday.

“I can’t rewrite history, but I give my word that I will never repeat it,” he told the judge.

The court made an exception and is allowing Wilkoff to see his grandchildren with stipulations. Their parents must give permission and another adult must be there to supervise.


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Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.