The indictment against "abusive rabbi" Elior Chen, who is accused of a line of serious abuse against eight children was read at Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday.
Chen fled Israel in March 2008 to Brazil and was extradited back to Israel last month after a long legal process.
In the hearing, Chen's lawyer Ariel Atari requested to delay giving his response to the charges against his client. At the request of the judge, Yoram Noam, Chen stood up and declared that he understands the charges brought against him.
During the hearing the judge announced that Chen must decide by December 10 whether or not he would like to keep Atari as his attorney, otherwise, he will be appointed a public defense attorney.
The court also ruled that the defense must respond to the indictment by January 3.
The judge ruled that Chen's trial will open on February 15 and run three days a week.
At the end of the session, Atari told Ynet, "The matter of representation was not reopened; there are some technical details that need to be worked out. We asked to postpone the hearing in order to study the material of the investigation."
During the trial, M., the mother of the children allegedly abused by Chen, is slated to testify against him. Harsh accusations were also made against Shimon Gabai, David Kugman, and Avraham Mascalchi, who incriminated Chen in their interrogations.
M. reached a plea bargain with the prosecution, according to which she will be sentenced to five years in prison if she testifies against Chen. The trial is slated to last for about two months.
Chen is charged with abuse of a helpless minor, and several counts of the assault of a minor. According to the charges, Chen and his followers would severely beat the hands of one of the children, aged three, with a wooden hammer and stick. They also burned the child's fingers and other parts of his body with a lighter.
David, the father of the abused children, told Ynet that he was not aware that the trial had opened Monday morning. "Such a crooked person, who burns children, what kind of punishment can you give him? Want kind of punishment can you give a Nazi? This is what he did, let him live with it," the father said.
He added, "I have a lot going on in my life besides the trial, I don't have much time for it. What's important is that the truth comes out. Chen is trying to spread rumors as if it's all a ploy. These lies are the most infuriating. We hope the prosecution does its job right.
"There is no solace for what he did. The best punishment for a man who harms in this way is that he be healthy and in his right mind so he knows what he has done."
The family's lawyer, David Halevy, said, "Beyond the physical and emotional injuries, this is a man who did not take responsibility, he fled the country and did everything possible to try and foil his prosecution to the full extent of the law. The family expects a swift process and for Elior Chen to receive a suitable punishment for his actions in a way that cannot endanger other families in the future."