A week after three of his followers were sentenced to 17-20 years in prison, self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen was convicted of the charges against him by the Jerusalem District Court. "There was no due process. The judge prevented me from studying the material and cross-examining witnesses," he said.
Chen was convicted of abusing and assaulting helpless minors while causing serious injury as well as charges of physical and mental abuse.
Judge Yoram Noam stated in the verdict: "The testimonies of the mother and children were reliable and faithfully described the events…a rough reality was depicted, indicating the children lived under a violent and cruel regime led by Chen, and were constantly beaten, abused and humiliated.
"The hideously violent and abusive acts which spanned weeks were performed both in the family's home and in the defendant's home and left a mark on each and every one of the children, who carry deep physical and emotional scars."
Elior Chen in court (Photo: Guy Assayag)
Judge Noam also addressed Chen's influence over his followers. "Chen thought up and initiated the violent and abusive acts and recruited his followers who carried out his plan. He took an active and dominant role in the abuse. Beyond the acts he committed himself, he was also found accountable as the main perpetrator of violent and abusive acts committed by the group in accordance with his orders and instructions."
The judge continued: "The orders and instructions which the defendant gave the group members included beating using objects, sticks and hammers; constant shaking of the head; the causing of wounds and burns; binding of the hands, including in a suitcase; deprivation of food and sleep; force feeding excrement and liqueur."
Finally, the judge determined that Chen should be considered the prime perpetrator of the offences, describing him as the "spiritual father" of the crimes which he initiated.
Fleeing to Brazil
In November 2009, an indictment was filed against Chen which detailed unimaginable abuse committed by Chen and his followers. Chen was charged with abusing eight brothers from Jerusalem. One of the victims is in a vegetated state as a result of the abuse.
Chen escaped to Brazil when the affair was first made public and was eventually arrested and extradited to Israel. His trial opened earlier this year after repeated delays.
After the reading of the verdict, Yaakov, Chen's father said he was not surprised by the ruling but noted he was confident his son is innocent. "He only taught Torah. The whole thing was fixed. The police are corrupt. We believe in him," he said.
Chen's mother noted that the media judged her son even before the trial started. "He didn't escape to Brazil, he meant to come back," she added.
'Ruling will not stand'
Chen's attorney Ariel Atari leveled criticism against the prosecution and the judges. "The court prevented us from cross-examining the prosecution witnesses. Chen was given only five weeks to study an incredible amount of material while the prosecution had months to prepare. Today's ruling will not stand for long. I have no doubt the Supreme Court will stop the great injustice done to Chen. He claimed then and claims now he is innocent."
The mother of the children, who was found guilty of handing her daughter over to the "abusive rabbi," was sentenced six months ago to five years behind bars.
Last week, after Chen's followers were sentenced to prison the children's father told Ynet that no prison sentence could heal the scars.
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