Elior Chen disciples charged with up to 20 years in prison

Four men tortured children, feeding them feces and locking them in suitcases; one has been in a coma since 2008 after severe beating.

November 23, 2010 12:05
3 minute read.
Elior Chen in court.

Elior Chen court 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Jerusalem District Court judge Nava Ben-Or sentenced four “disciples” of self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen to up to 20 years in prison for their sadistic brutalization of the children of a woman who became a follower of Chen.

Ben-Or sentenced David Avraham Kugman to 20 years in jail and a one-year suspended sentence and ordered him to pay NIS 200,000 in compensation to the children. Avraham Maskalchi and Shimon Gabai were each sentenced to 17 years in jail, a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay NIS 100,000 in compensation.

Roi Tzoref, who spent only part of the time during which Chen was in control of the children, was sentenced to 30 months in jail, six months suspended and ordered to pay NIS 10,000 in compensation.

Chen is being tried separately while the mother of the children, identified as M., has already been sentenced to five years in jail for her role in the affair. She turned state’s witness and testified against her former “teacher.”

In her verdict, Ben-Or wrote, “By their actions, the defendants, particularly Kugman, Maskalchi and Gabai, subverted the most fundamental moral foundation of human society. The inflicted a deep wound on the ability of little children to trust and rely on adults. They inflicted a mortal wound on the helpless and seriously undermined the fundamental understanding that children, by virtue of their being children, are to be defended against evil. The instinctive awareness that little children have of reward and punishment, cause and effect and morality, an awareness that is so vital for their growth and development in human society.”

She also wrote that the accused did not lose their ability to distinguish right from wrong during the time they were under Chen’s direct influence. “It is true,” wrote Ben-Or, “that they regarded Chen as a tzadik and wished to bask in his shadow. Yes, he had a powerful influence on them and they negated themselves in his presence. However, as their testimony in court showed, they did not blindly obey orders whose moral significance they were not aware of. They did not behave as robots but acted with deliberation.”

In the first section of the 25-page verdict, Ben-Or went into detail on the kinds of sadistic actions which the children suffered at the hands of Chen and the defendants.

The first victim was Sh., the 12-year-old son. He was expelled from school for bad behavior and brought to Chen’s self-styled yeshiva where he was beaten punched and pushed by Chen and his disciples. Tzoref was responsible for Sh.’s “re-education.”

During that period, Chen and his disciples spent a weekend at the home of M., the children’s mother. During the two days, they attacked A., the youngest, who was three at the time, and Nh., who was six years old.

Soon afterwards, Chen “married” M. even though he already had a wife and family, and brought his new “bride” and her children to his home in Beitar Illit.

He put Kugman in charge of A., and Gabai in charge of N., the second youngest, who was four years old at the time. Maskalchi was put in charge of another son but “helped” the other two. Tzoref did not move into Chen’s house and was therefore not involved in the brutalization of the children during the two month’s they remained with Chen.

The victims who suffered the most during this time were A. and N. The following is one of the many descriptions in the verdict of the acts perpetrated by the children’s ‘guardians.’ “Kugman would force A. to wear shoes even though the child was suffering from burns on the soles of his feet. The burns were caused when the accused stood him too close to a heater. The child did not dare move despite the fact that the burn grew worse, because he was in a permanent state of shock. The brushing of the shoe on the burn caused a pus-filled wound.  

Not only did Kugman force A.’s tortured foot into the shoe, but in order to prevent the child from scratching the burn wound, they handcuffed him to a chair so tightly that the blood flow to his hand stopped and they ‘ripped him apart’ with beatings.’ The torture of the two youngest children at Chen’s home was discovered after both children ended up in hospital within hours of each other. N. suffered severe burns and A. was brought in in a coma and has remained in that condition ever since. Ban-Or described Chen’s home as a ‘house of horrors.’

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town


Cookie Settings