Mother in 'cult abuse' case ordered held until end of trial

Haaretz, Israel/April 18, 2008

The Jerusalem mother accused of abusing her children will remain in detention until the court proceedings are over, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Ravid decided Thursday. The indictment against the woman details abuse "among the most serious and shocking I have known as a judge," he wrote.

The mother reportedly belongs to an ultra-Orthodox group led by a charismatic leader, Elior Chen, who preaches "correcting" children by means of torture. An international arrest warrant has been issued for Chen, who fled to Canada when the case broke last month. Ravid called the room in Chen's apartment where tools allegedly used to abuse the children were found as "an Inquisition room."

According to the charge sheet, the mother abused her children physically and emotionally, particularly her two youngest, boys aged 3 and 4. The mother admitted to police that she let other people do so, too.

Refused them medical treatment

The fact that the mother knew of the abuse and refused to provide the children with medical treatment left the judge no doubt that she poses a danger to them and to others, Ravid said. The youngest son has been unconscious in the hospital for the past month, and doctors say he probably will not not recover.

Meanwhile, a 39-year-old mother from Tel Aviv was charged Thursday with assaulting, abusing and neglecting her 15-year-old daughter for the past seven years.

The indictment filed in Tel Aviv District Court describes a litany of abuse, including dragging the girl along the floor by her collar until she lost consciousness and threatening to kill her. The mother also occasionally forbade her daughter from using the bathroom or communicating with her father and siblings, and refused to do her laundry or provide her with food and drink.

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