‘Irrefutable testimony’ Berland touched married women under clothes -rabbi

President of renowned Bnei Brak rabbinical court says there is ‘no doubt’ about testimony Berland repeatedly touched married women under their clothes.

Rabbi Berland Arrest (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Rabbi Berland Arrest
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
There is incontrovertible testimony that fraudulent rabbi Eliezer Berland touched married women and single women under their clothes, said one of the senior rabbis on a special rabbinical court which recently censured Berland.
Last month, three highly respected rabbinical judges from the ultra-Orthodox community determined after 18 months of proceedings in the special court they established that Berland had indeed committed “severe” sexual crimes and violations of religious law and called on the public to distance themselves from him.
The special court’s declaration was significant since Berland had never been seriously censured by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic leadership following his conviction in 2016 for indecent assault as well as allegations of rape and other crimes.
The special court’s declaration was however somewhat vague and unspecific, and Berland’s ardent devotees tried to cast doubt on the court’s findings and determinations.
One Berland ally, Rabbi Nissim Ben Shimon, a former had of the state’s Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, wrote a letter to Rabbi Sriel Rozenberg, president of the renowned Bnei Brak Rabbinical Court of the late Rabbi Nissim Karelitz and one of the rabbis on the special court, questioning the declaration.
Rozenberg wrote back in response last week to clarify the court’s statement.
Rozenberg wrote that there had been one witness who gave testimony about Berland having full sexual intercourse with a married woman.
He added that there was also irrefutable testimony that Berland touched other women under their clothes.
“There was no doubt regarding his behavior of embracing women and thrusting his hands under their clothes, and there was testimony which was undeniable,” wrote Rozenberg.
“I cannot imagine that there are people who can think a man like this is holy and a truly righteous man and fitting to lead a congregation amongst Israel,” the rabbi concluded.
In 2014, disciplinary charges were brought against Ben Shimon after he formulated an agreement in his rabbinical court whereby a woman who was raped by her cousin for seven years from the age of 11 to 18 would not file a criminal complaint against him, in return for NIS 220,000.
Clear condemnation for Berland had been lacking from the senior echelons of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical leadership, and the fraudulent rabbi has continued to receive honors such as being driven up to the Western Wall and lighting a bonfire at Mt. Meron on Lag Ba’omer.
This changed last month after Rozenberg’s special court issued its declaration.
In 2016, Berland was convicted of two counts of indecent assault against two women, and one count of assault against the husband of one of the women, whom he had beaten up for reporting the issue to the press.
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison but served only five months, and was released to serve the remainder of his sentence on house arrest due to poor health.
In 2016, audio recordings of Berland were released by Channel 2 News in which he seemingly admits to raping one of his victims. The victim never came forward to make a police complaint however, and charges against Berland for rape were never made.
And last month, the State Attorney’s Office announced that it intends to indict Berland for fraud and attempted tax evasion, as well as money laundering.
According to the new, pending indictment, Berland failed to report income he made from various services he provided as head of Shuvu Banim such as fundraising, parlor meetings, and advisory services.
These charges come while Berland has been in police custody since April due to another criminal investigation into the sect leader in which he is suspected of demanding large sums of money from the relatives of sick individuals in return for blessings from Berland, as well as administering fake medicine.
During the course of a police raid last month, antibiotic drops and Mentos mints were found in Berland’s possession, substances which he allegedly gave to ill people he took money from, in some cases for incurable or terminal illnesses.
In one instance, the publication of which by Channel 13 in December prompted the investigation, Berland forbade a young woman suffering from cancer from undergoing chemotherapy, telling her he would cure her instead.