Handcuffed 300 R.
(photo credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier)
The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday sentenced a local resident to 26 years
in prison after he was convicted of imprisoning and physically and sexually
abusing women and children.
The ruling brings to an end a case of what
police and social workers have called the worst abuse of its kind in
An assistant was sentenced to six years imprisonment.
central defendant, referred to as “D.A.” and whose identity the media are not
permitted to reveal, was considered to be the ringleader of a nine-person cult
whose members lived in Jerusalem and Tiberias.
The group of three men and
six women was a well-known polygamous Breslov family based in
D.A., 58, was the head of the “family” and lived with six
women and “dozens of children,” some of whom were his biological
The defendant had total control over the lives of the women
and children, whom he sent to work as beggars and to spread religious
D.A. led his victims to believe that he was the emissary of
Rabbi Nahman of Breslov, the founder of the Breslov hassidic dynasty, that he
would bring about the redemption of the Jewish people and that his teachings
should be disseminated.
Within the family he demanded complete openness
from everyone and exposure of every thought, positive or negative. This behavior
became obsessive and D.A.
demanded confessions, sometimes in front of the
rest of the family, followed by a “judgment” and punishment if he felt it was
The charge sheet describes the defendant as perpetrating a
“cruel regime of punishment, which he had dubbed ‘the laws.’” Among the forms of
“exceptional cruelty” that the defendant perpetrated against the victims were
rape, violence, starvation, physical and mental abuse, severe degradation and
humiliation and other sex offenses.
The court also described the sadistic
nature of other crimes committed by D.A. in the name of disciplining his
These included electrocution, flogging with electric cables,
imprisonment in closets, starvation and other forms of extreme
This regime, the charge sheet said, was carried out in the family
home, and the absolute subordination of the women and children to the first
defendant was implemented due to his “charismatic personality and the spiritual
qualities attributed to him.”Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.