Seventy employees of a private medical institute in Petah Tikva
were arrested Wednesday on suspicion they physically, sexually and mentally abused patients suffering from mental disabilities.
Some of the employees, including the institute's directors, doctors and the nursing staff, are suspected of committing the abusive acts, while others are suspected of not reporting the abuse to the authorities.
Some 100 employees work at the medical institute, which houses about 160 patients aged 20-70.
According to an initial investigation, several employees sexually attacked the patients, preformed indecent acts on them and were violent towards them. In several incidents, the patients had to be admitted to a hospital following the attack.
Police launched an undercover investigation into the suspected abuse a year ago. Both Health Ministry officials and the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services took part in the ongoing investigation.
The probe was launched after police received various complaints from family and friends of patients residing in the facility. "We exposed a bond of silence. This is a difficult investigation," said Petah Tikva Police Chief Superintendent Sigal Bar Tzvi.
After police had uncovered enough evidence, some 150 officers raided the facility and detained its employees. According to Bar Tzvi, special teams will collect testimonies from the patients.
"We have uncovered physical and sexual abuse, neglect and inadequate care," Bar Tzvi said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has sent a professional team of experts to care for the patients.
Attorney David Horovitz, who represents the medical facility, said "We will assist the police in finding incidents of violence."
The Health Ministry
said in response: "Following several complaints of violence toward patients, the central district psychiatrist decided to file a police complaint. During this time, the ministry frequently visited the facility and held surprise checkups."
"Psychiatrists from the Department of Mental Health, ministry experts, social workers, a nursing staff and a support staff from Abarbanel Mental Health Center have come to replace the current staff while police continue with their investigation."