5 Dec 2010

Four disciples of Israeli cult leader guilty of torturing eight children in order to "purify" them

Haaretz - Israel May 13, 2010

Four disciples of cult leader Chen convicted of child abuse

By Liel Kyzer

Four disciples of cult leader Elior Chen were convicted yesterday of severely abusing eight children.

Prosecutors plan to ask the Jerusalem District Court to sentence all of them to lengthy prison terms. However, the sentencing hearing will take place only in September.

At least some of the defendants - David Kugman, Avraham Mascalchi, Ro'i Tzoref and Shimon Gabai - plan to appeal their convictions.

Chen, who called himself a rabbi, told his disciples the abuse was necessary to "purify" the children, all members of one family. As a result, the children were severely beaten, burned, locked in suitcases and forced to eat their own feces, among other acts; one child remains in a coma to this day as a result.

In her ruling, Judge Nava Ben-Or called the case "incomprehensible," adding that Israel has never before known anything like it.

For instance, Mascalchi, 25, was convicted of burning the fingers of one child, taping his mouth shut, stuffing him into a suitcase and leaving him there for some time. Kugman, 24, was convicted of tying up the children and then beating them. He also held one child to an electric heater, causing burns so severe that the child needed a skin transplant.

Two of the four defendants denied all the charges against them. The other two admitted to some, but claimed that they were helpless under Chen's "magical" influence. Ben-Or was unmoved.

"The children of the S. family have, on their own bodies, experienced a harsh and painful lesson about the behavior of a man who knowingly divests himself of every mechanism of restraint and follows a 'righteous man,' or any other leader, without holding himself accountable for his actions, even though he understands their nature perfectly well," she wrote. "To absolve someone of criminal liability under such circumstances is like saying man is nothing but an animal."

This article was found at: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/four-disciples-of-cult-leader-chen-convicted-of-child-abuse-1.290053


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