22 Nov 2010

Israeli messianic cult leader charged with sexual assault, rape, incest, sodomy and enslavement

CNN - February 16, 2010

Israeli cult leader charged with enslavement, rape

Jerusalem (CNN) -- An Israeli man accused of having 21 wives and fathering 49 children was charged Sunday in a Tel Aviv court with multiple counts of sexual assault, rape, sodomy and enslavement.

Goel Ratzon, 60, was arrested last month.

Authorities charge that he lived in a compound with the 21 wives, having convinced them that he was omnipotent.

All the wives tattooed Ratzon's name and picture on their arms and the children's names are all derivatives of his name, according to the court papers.

Ratzon married his first wife in 1972, added a second wife in the early 1980s, and from 1991 added another 19 wives, according to the indictment.

He persuaded the women that he had the power to heal and curse, through which he gained "complete control of their lives, desires, thoughts, emotions and actions," the court papers say.

Ratzon spoke in court for first time last week, saying he was innocent, that everything was done with consent, and that any women who wished to leave could do so, Israeli media reported.


The indictment charges that the defendant "captured the women in a 'pseudo-family' structure that revolved around the worship of his image, making the birth of his children a supreme goal that the women must aspire to, and all this was to glorify him while serving and fulfilling all his needs."

Ratzon demanded that his wives and children completely obey all of his orders and has stringent rules and had a penalty system if they disobeyed him, the indictment alleges.

He also "abused his wives by trampling their self-worth and cut them off from any outside social contact including their families, and by this enslaved them to him and his desires," the court papers say.

The indictment includes allegations of rape and sodomy of two of his daughters, sexual assault of another daughter, and rape, assault and sodomy of four other girls.

Beyond the mental and physical control Ratzon had over his wives, he effectively controlled all of their finances, the indictment says. The women deposited major chunks of their social security payments and salaries into the family's account, paid for all of his living expenses and bought him all his property and anything he demanded, authorities charge.

Ratzon's cult has been known to the authorities for about 10 years, they said, but it was only about six months ago they succeeded in convincing one of the women to file a complaint. That brought about his arrest last month.

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Haaretz - Israel February 15, 2010

Alleged cult leader charged with enslavement, abusing women

By Ofra Edelman

A man accused of leading a polygamist cult was charged yesterday with rape, sodomy, enslavement, familial sexual abuse and several other offenses against his 21 "wives."

Prosecutors also requested that the Tel Aviv District Court keep Goel Ratzon in jail until the conclusion of legal proceedings against him.

"The indictment exposes a lifestyle that is shocking to thought, imagination and morality," the Tel Aviv district prosecutor wrote. "The charges are filed given the defendant's actions over the years against his 21 wives, whom he took and enslaved, in contravention of all norms, and in ways that fit the darkest times in human history."

Ratzon, 60, allegedly subjected his 21 partners and 38 children to strict disciplinary measures, but claims they chose to live with him.

Prosecutors said Ratzon subjugated the women to satisfy his financial and sexual desires for two decades.

Ratzon allegedly claimed to possess supernatural powers that enabled him to cure diseases, destroy objects, grant blessings and cast curses. Prosecutors said these claims were intended to make him appear to be an omnipotent guru and strengthen his control of the household.

The indictment says Ratzon dissuaded the women from maintaining familial and social ties while "humiliating and trampling their dignity, inhibiting their free will, abusing them, robbing them and enslaving them."

Prosecutors said Ratzon kept the women confined to his Tel Aviv compound, where they were told that their goal was to have children. The indictment alleges that Ratzon's 21 wives gave birth to 49 children.

In addition, Ratzon allegedly treated the women like his property, and made them get tattoos of his name and image, change their first and last names, and gave their children names glorifying him. Ratzon also allegedly made his children kiss his feet when he entered the home.

Prosecutors say Ratzon would often separate mothers from their children as well as siblings from each other in order to tighten his grip.

Ratzon also allegedly set strict behavioral rules, including forbidding the women from working outside the home, except in order to care for the elderly or advance the household.

Ratzon allegedly forbade them from taking detours on the way to work, wearing clothing he deemed immodest, watching television and using the Internet.

They also were told not to eat meat or communicate with men over age 13.

Ratzon also allegedly made the women appear cheerful every time they left the house together, and made them not wear sunglasses, so he could tell what they were looking at.

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