Rabbi Mordechai Elon
Photo: Gili Eliyahu
Mazuz. Nothing could be done?
Photo: Noam Moscowitz
Rabbi Mordechai (Motty) Elon, a senior religious-Zionist figure, is suspected of sexual harassment and was duly suspended from all educational and rabbinical services four years ago, rabbis from the movement said in a statement Monday.
The rabbis say they appealed to the attorney general at the time, Menachem Mazuz, after they learned of the harassment, but that because they refused to give Elon's name they were told by the State Prosecutor's Office that nothing could be done.
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The prosecution said that without official complaints by victims an indictment could not be filed, and that the rabbis would have to go to the police, they claim.
Takana forum, the religious-Zionist organization charged with handling cases of sexual harassment among the movement's leaders, said in the statement Monday that Elon's case has been under investigation for many years following complaints of "acts conflicting with holy and ethical values".
"Unfortunately, these complaints were verified," the statement says, adding that the rabbi was forced to relinquish all religious leadership and seek personal counseling.
"In accordance with the halachic-moral values that guide the forum, among them the demand to protect the public and the complainants while maintaining respect for the accused, the forum has so far refrained from making the matter public," the statement says.
It also explains that the matter had been made public because new information came to light, by which the rabbi had violated the limitations imposed on him and provided rabbinical services despite being suspended.
"It has come to our attention that of late the limitations were only partially implemented, and that protection of the public obligates us to notify the masses," the statement says.
First complaint comes to light
On Tuesday morning Yedioth Ahronoth published a complaint regarding Elon, by D., currently 29, who sought his advice 10 years ago.
"I came to Rabbi Motty Elon for a consultation over ten years ago because I was having trouble as a religious teen with my sexual identity. During the meeting he advised me, and then began to hug me and touch me all over my body," he told the paper.
"I came to him a few times for consultations and he was very nice, attentive, and supportive," D. said. "He understood my situation well."
D. said the rabbi explained to him that his problem was that he did not differentiate between friendships and love for a significant other. In order to explain the difference, he asked D. to hug him.
However the message was not "understood", so the rabbi asked him to remove his shirt, "so that the touch and warmth will be clearer".
D. says he attended additional meetings during which the two removed their clothing and touched, activities which Elon said qualified as "treatment" that would "save him" from his sexual urges.
"I didn't realize anything was wrong because I believed in the word of the 'wise men' and because of the admiration shown for the rabbi in his surroundings," he explained. With time, D. said, he understood he had been harassed, but refrained from coming forward until today.
Aviad Glickman contributed to this report