Judge: Ratzon is dangerous, incriminates himself

Court extends remand of Goel Ratzon by nine days, rejects defense' request for review. Judge: He is dangerous to all of public since he recruited women as he wandered city, convinced them through his smooth talking to join what seems to me to be a cult

YNet News, Israel/January 24, 2010

Goel Ratzon will stay another nine days in police custody, according to a ruling by Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court Judge Rachel Greenberg on Sunday. The judge wrote in her ruling that the cult leader from Tel Aviv's Tikva neighborhood who was arrested a week and a half ago on suspicions of enslaving his dozens of "wives" and sexual offenses did indeed commit the crimes ascribed to him.

According to Greenberg, suspicions were raised during investigation of Ratzon himself that he did commit sexual offenses. Regarding enslavement of his "wives", the judge said that the large extended family living with him "seems to me to be a cult" in light of the evidence submitted to the court and that Ratzon is poses a threat to the general public.

Ratzon was brought for a second time to court on Sunday. Before the hearing, his son Yigal Ratzon approached him and told him, "Dad, I love you." He asked his father if he is pleased with the interviews he has given to the media in support of his father. His father nodded his head, but then the police prevented the two from continuing their conversation.

At the beginning of the hearing, police representative Tal Soholitko asserted that there has been progress in the investigation, during which additional evidence was gathered that increases suspicions against Ratzon.

"Words cannot describe what the suspect allegedly did to the victims," Soholitko said. "It borders on utter contempt for human dignity."

On other hand, Ratzon's legal counsel, Attorney Shlomtzion Gabbai, asked the court to release her client to house arrest and claimed that some of the actions attributed to him are no longer criminal offenses because the statute of limitations has expired.

'Wife proven worthy because she keeps quiet'

Judge Greenberg wrote in her decision that the women described Ratzon's conduct at home during their investigations. They detailed their debts to Ratzon and the demands he placed on him, both financially and emotionally.

"In order to demonstrate the demands, I will note that it was revealed during one of the testimonies that the suspect believed the woman proved herself (worthy) because he shouts and degrades her, and she keeps quiet," wrote the judge. "In addition, the women said that until the suspect found out that the women were prepared to void themselves entirely before him, he denied them certain things."

The judge also ruled that "there is no disagreeing" that Ratzon had "a nearly limitless influence" on the women and children that were under his complete mastery until recently, and that "it does not take a lot of imagination" to understand that his release is likely to prevent these very women and children from providing complete and truthful testimonies to the police.

"In addition, I reject the claim that the suspect does not pose a danger to the general public," added the judge. "He recruited the women under his control while wandering through his neighborhood and other places in the city. Through his smooth talking, he succeeded in convincing them to join what seems to me to be a cult. There is no doubt that in this sense, the suspect continues to pose a threat to the general public."

Defense lawyer, Attorney Gabbai, asked the court to send Ratzon to a detainment review to review whether he could be sent to a detainment alternative because he is a 60-year-old man with no criminal record. However, Judge Greenberg rejected her request.

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