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Goel Ratzon


Israeli Cult Leader Convicted of Sexual Crimes
Some 4 and a half years after he was first indicted in June 2009 following a complaint of abuse from one of the women, 64-year-old Israeli cult leader and polygamist Goel Ratzon has been convicted of numerous sexual offenses. The list includes aggravated rape, sexual offenses against family members, sodomy, and indecent assault over “many years” against six of the seven victims who testified against him, most of whom were minors and included some of his daughters.

Prosecutors had alleged that Ratzon, 64, whose first name means “redeemer,” kept 21 wives and 38 children under his spell in various homes around Tel Aviv for years. Ratzon had denied the allegations. The verdict, distributed by a closed-door panel of judges of the Justice Ministry, indicated that victims included some of his daughters. His sentence will be handed down later.

The court found Ratzon not guilty of the charge of holding people in conditions of slavery. According to the charges, Ratzon’s wives saw him as “omnipotent and possessing the powers of healing and destruction.” But one of his wives, Maayan, harshly criticized this part of the court’s ruling, saying, “There is no law and there is no judge in the State of Israel. I was in complete slavery. If the State of Israel had not released me, I would have been serving a life sentence.”

Measures that Ratzon imposed on the women in his family, which were found in a rule book, included restrictions regarding marriage, verbal and physical attacks on each other, questioning of another’s whereabouts, and the requirement that all conversation be restricted to only the living room, with talk of nonsense forbidden. Infractions resulted in personal fines ranging from the Israeli currency NIS 100 to NIS 2,000 “to be paid into the family kitty.” (Haaretz; Reuters, 9/8/14) [IT 6.1 2015]