Elior Chen sentenced to 24 years in prison for abuse

Cult leader and 4 followers convicted of abusing children after they beat them with hammers and rods, forced them to eat feces.

February 28, 2011 17:44
3 minute read.
Elior Chen.

Elior Chen 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Cult leader Elior Chen, who was convicted in November of brutally beating three children of one of his “disciples,” was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Monday by the Jerusalem District Court.

He will also be required to pay NIS 200,000 to the three children who were most savagely beaten as well as NIS 50,000 to the family’s other five children.

Elior Chen found guilty of all charges against him
Elior Chen disciples charged with up to 20 years in prison

The abuse took place between late 2007 and early 2008, after Chen convinced the ex-wife of a followers to move into his Betar Illit home.

Chen, 27, “married” the woman, though he was already married with children.

He encouraged his followers, David Kugman, Avraham Maskalchi and Shimon Gabi, all in their early 20s, to provide “corrections” and “education” for the children, a vicious regimen of abuse that Chen, a self-proclaimed rabbi, demonstrated and oversaw.

The abuse was performed systematically for several months and one boy, who was four at the time, remains in a coma to this day. The abuse was concentrated on three of the woman’s eight children, identified as “Aleph,” “Nun” and “Shin.”

During the time of the abuse, the children were ages three, four and 13.

The abuse included beatings with rods, hammers and sharp objects, forcing the children to eat feces, stuffing them into suitcases, handcuffing them to a chair and beating them, forcing them to stand outside in the winter in just a tank top while Chen’s disciples poured cold water over them, depriving them of sleep and food, and using space heaters and lighters to inflict severe burns.

“The accused oversaw a regime of terror and threats over the children, which included brutal violence, humiliation, and degradation,” Judge Yoram Noam wrote in his 29-page sentencing decision. “We are talking about cruel attacks and abuse that are appalling and shocking, that the accused enacted against the children together with his disciples, over a number of months.”

Chen’s lawyer, Ariel Attias, has maintained his client’s innocence and said previously that that he would appeal to the Supreme Court. He has 45 days to do so.

Prosecutors were expecting a long sentence for Chen, after Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or in November sentenced four of Chen’s disciples to up to 20 years in prison for their sadistic brutalization of the children.

Ben-Or sentenced Kugman to 20 years in jail and a oneyear suspended sentence and ordered him to pay NIS 200,000 in compensation to the children. Maskalchi and 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 participated in the abuse for 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.

The mother of the children, identified as “Mem,” has already been sentenced to five years in jail for her role in the affair. She became a state’s witness and testified against her former “teacher.”

The torture of the two youngest children at Chen’s home was discovered on March 11, 2008, after they ended up in hospital within hours of each other. Nun suffered severe burns and Aleph was brought in in a coma and has remained in that condition ever since.

The same day the children went to the hospital, Chen sent all the other children to their grandmother’s house and disappeared. Five days later, he flew to Brazil, whence he was extradited on October 28, 2009.

Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.

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