Former president of Charlotte synagogue charged with sexual exploitation of minors

Evan Roy Wilkoff

A former leader of Temple Beth El, the Carolinas’ largest synagogue, is scheduled to appear in court Monday to answer to felony charges that allege he possessed and distributed videos showing girls as young as 7 engaged in sex acts.

Evan Roy Wilkoff, who served as president of the Charlotte congregation for two years ending in June 2020, is facing six charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, arrest warrants show.

According to the arrest warrants, Wilkoff in November 2020 “willfully and feloniously” possessed and distributed a number of videos depicting children involved in various sex acts. He was arrested four months later by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

Soon thereafter, Wilkoff informed the temple about the criminal charges and resigned his position on its governing board, according to the congregation’s senior rabbi, Asher Knight.

Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Wilkoff said: “I’ve been instructed not to talk about it. I really have nothing else to say.”

Attorneys listed in court documents as Wilkoff’s legal counsel declined to talk with The Charlotte Observer when reached this week.

‘A really sad situation’

At his scheduled court appearance in Charlotte, Wilkoff is expected to plead either guilty or not guilty. If convicted, he could be sentenced to probation, house arrest or up to 20 months in prison.

More than 850 families are members of Temple Beth El, a Reform Jewish congregation on Providence Road.

Rabbi Knight said the temple’s leaders have not heard any allegations that Wilkoff engaged in inappropriate behavior at the synagogue. As the temple’s president, Wilkoff was focused on the synagogue’s governance and budget, and was not involved in programming or children’s activities, Knight said.

“Our legal counsel reviewed the charges, and the charges focused on things that happened at his home and on his personal computer,” Knight said. “It was a private matter that occurred at his home. It occurred after his presidency. And we have never been contacted by law enforcement.”

Until recently, Wilkoff, 55, lived in Hembstead, a neighborhood of stately brick homes not far from the Arboretum. He and his wife sold their 5,200-square-foot home in October 2022 for $1,035,000, real estate records show.

He has worked for more than 10 years as manager of Hembstead Capital, LLC, a consulting and real estate investment firm, according to Secretary of State records.

“It’s a really sad situation for everyone,” Rabbi Knight said.