A member of the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor cult was indicted on Tuesday at Jerusalem District Court on charges of mentally and physically abusing children.
According to the indictment, in 2009-2011, when he served as the principal of a school belonging to the sect in Canada, 46-year-old Rabbi Elazar Rompler allegedly abused two children aged 9 and 10 years of age.
Lev Tahor was founded in Jerusalem in the 1990s by charismatic leader Rabbi Shlomo Hebrans who died in mysterious circumstances in Mexico in 2017.
According to the charges, in 2009, Rompler allegedly had a child stripped of his clothes, tied up and beaten with a stick and a belt for several hours over suspicions he stole money from a charity box.
Quoting bible verses condemning theft, the defendant addressed the entire student body explaining his actions as the child cried in pain beside him. After beating him on the back, the child was turned over and the beatings continued on his abdomen, chest, legs and buttocks.
The child was unable to stand on his own feet after the beating and had to be carried home by classmates.
In another incident, in 2011, Rompler was accused of instructing other teachers to hold a child down and beat him repeatedly for allegedly lying that he needed glasses. The child was also held down by teachers and beat repeatedly on his back and buttocks while the defendant spoke to the student body that was assembled to watch about the sin of telling lies.
Lev Tahor, which has about 230 members, has frequently moved from country to country in efforts to escape criminal charges.
In 2014, it relocated to Guatemala from Canada following allegations of mistreatment of its children including abuse and child-marriages and separating children from their parents.
In September the sect had requested political asylum in Iran, according to documents filed in a U.S. Federal Court after at least six members of its leadership were indicted in the United States on various charges including kidnapping, identity theft (use of false passports), conspiracy to defraud the United States and international parental kidnapping.
Lev Tahor declared its “loyalty and submission to the Supreme Leader and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, the documents state.
In April 2017, Israel designated the group a violent cult after evidence of severe mental and physical abuse of members emerged and reports that parents within the sect prevented their children from attending formal education and cut them off from the outside world surfaced.
Rompler was arrested in December after arriving in Israel. He has since been under house arrest and has an order prohibiting him from leaving the country has been issued by the court.