Four members of the cult led by Elior Chen were convicted on Wednesday by the Jerusalem District Court of a line of serious offenses for their involvement in the children's abuse affair. One of the children who was abused is still in hospital in a vegetative state.
Judge Nava Ben-Or noted in her ruling, "I have full confidence in the testimony of the children's investigator Micha Haran and his professional opinion. I watched the investigation tapes and have no doubt the children told the truth."
The indictments against the four included 22 counts which pertained to 40 abuse incidents.
David Kugman, 24, was accused of shaking the children intensely while holding their hands and legs together with other members of the group. In some of the cases they would cuff the children's hands and legs with plastic cuffs and ropes.
The suspects in court on Wednesday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The indictment detailed an incident in February 2008 during which Kugman and another Chen follower pressed one of the children to an electric stove and removed him only after his skin started pealing off. He then poured alcohol and salt on the wound. The victim required skin transplant surgery as a result.
Burning fingers, sealing mouths
Avraham Maskalchi, 25, was charged with abusing children using a wooden hammer. In one of the cases, he burned the fingers of one child, tied him up with a rope, placed a yarmulke in his mouth and sealed it with scotch tape. Maskalchi and Kugman then put the boy inside a small suitcase and deprived him of food and water for a long time. They were charged with assaulting and abusing a minor.
The two were also accused of locking another boy inside a suitcase for three days, and force-feeding yet another child with feces.
According to the indictment, at one stage one of the children complained of the abuse and was beat up in response.
The two other suspects to be convicted on Wednesday are Roi Tzoref and Shimon Gabai.
Elior Chen's wife, who neglected her eight children and left them to be abused, was sentenced to five years in prison last week.
"The actions carried out against the children included shaking, beating, binding, burning, force-feeding them feces, and more, reflect a loss of humanity on behalf of the perpetrators," the judge ruled.
Chen's own trial has not yet ended.