Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Up to 20 years for 'abusive rabbi' followers
Four Hasidim, supporters of Elior Chen, sentenced to prison terms for serious child abuse, including severe burning, beating, binding, food deprivation
Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday handed down a sentence of imprisonment to four followers of "abusive rabbi" Elior Chen, who was found guilty of child abuse.
One of the Hasidim, David Kugman, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, while Avraham Maskalchi and Shimon Gabai were given 17 years. Roi Tzoref, whose role in the affair was relatively small, was sentenced to two and a half years.
The judge wrote that the accused "undermined the basic understanding that children need to be protected from evil," adding she hoped the children's faith "had not been extinguished forever."
The four Hasidim were found guilty in May of serious child abuse, including shaking and binding children, forcing a child against an electric heater and applying alcohol and salt to the wound, and locking children in a suitcase.
The mother of the children, who was found guilty of handing her daughter over to the "abusive rabbi," was sentenced six months ago to five years behind bars. Elior Chen's trial is still underway.
Rubbed salt into wound
The indictment against the four Hasidim includes 22 paragraphs detailing 20 cases of abuse. Kugman (24) was accused of shaking up the children while holding their arms and legs, as well as binding their limbs with plastic cuffs and ropes.
In February 2008, according to the indictment, Kugman and other members of the group forced a child against an electric heater, releasing him only when he had sustained serious burns. They then poured alcohol on the wound and rubbed in salt. The child required intensive care including skin graft.
The indictment against Maskalchi, 25, describes how he abused children with a wooden hammer. In one case he burned one of the children's fingers, bound him with rope, put a yarmulke in his mouth and sealed it with scotch tape. Maskalchi and Kugman then put the child in a suitcase and deprived him of food and water.
The two were also accused of locking another boy inside a suitcase for three days, and force-feeding yet another child with feces. They also forced two children aged 5 and 7 to drink arak (an aniseed alcoholic beverage) until they vomited. When one child complained, they beat him harshly.