'Mystic rabbi’ accused of sexual assault

Rabbi Netanel Shriki from Netivot has been accused of sexually assaulting women who sought his advice. He denies the allegations

Women block King George St. in Tel Aviv in protest against government inaction concerning domestic violence (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Women block King George St. in Tel Aviv in protest against government inaction concerning domestic violence
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Rabbi Netanel Shriki, a supposedly mystic rabbi from Netivot, has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault against a woman who came to him for advice, while police investigators are trying to identify other possible complainants.
Shriki was arrested on Monday and his detention was extended till Thursday by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court. The rabbi’s assistant was also arrested and his detention was also extended until Thursday, due to a concern for witness tampering and interference with the investigation, which prosecutors state has already occurred.
Last week, a doctor told N12 that she had been sexually molested by a “prominent rabbi” from southern Israel, without disclosing his name.
Another woman has now also filed a complaint against Shriki, and the police are looking for more possible victims.
The Beersheba court said in the decision to extend Shriki’s detention that both women who have filed complaints against the rabbi said that the assault happened during private meetings with him in which they sought his advice.
The doctor had sought his advice because she and her husband were having trouble conceiving a second child, and her husband recommended she go visit Shriki.
She said that while consulting with him, the rabbi asked her to remove her shirt and bra, since it had metal in it, so that he could evaluate her better, and said that she felt she had to obey him due to his stature as an esteemed rabbi.
“He put his hand on my stomach, raised his hands to my lower chest, got close to me with his face close to my neck, breathed heavily like a dog and asked me ‘what is this doing for you’,” she told N12.
“I realized at that point that this was bad for me… I wanted to throw up, and then he looked at me and said “Nothing has happened here, tell your husband and I’ll deny it, he will believe me.”
The attorney for Shriki argued in court on Tuesday that the allegations made by the second complainant did not amount to a crime, and that the allegations of the doctor were tainted by the fact that she had spoken to the press.
The attorney said that Shriki had explained to the court that according to Jewish mysticism, metal hinders spiritual clairvoyance and that's why he asked her to remove her bra, insisting that Shriki had not touched the woman.
Judge Irit Koifman of the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court who is presiding over the case said that after reviewing the investigation file she believed that there is “a reasonable suspicion against the respondent,” due to the testimony of the complainants.