'Abusive mom' allowed to return home

Prosecutors' appeal to keep woman in remand rejected, but woman not allowed to reunite with son.

child-starving mother 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
child-starving mother 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A mother suspected of nearly starving her three-year-old boy to death was reunited with her family on Friday, after a Jerusalem court agreed to place her under house arrest at her home. The woman, a resident of the Mea She'arim neighborhood and a member of the Toldot Aharon hassidic sect, is expected to be charged with child abuse in the middle of the week. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruling, which was upheld by the Jerusalem District Court on Friday afternoon, represented a stinging blow to the prosecution, which had argued she was a danger to her family and should be kept away from her children. The defense has been seeking to get her home since her arrest two weeks ago. The Magistrate's Court said she could be reunited with her four other children, under supervision, until a remand hearing on August 5. She is barred from contact with the three-year-old she allegedly abused. The court said he would be discharged on Sunday from Hadassah-University Hospital in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, and moved to another hospital or to the care of a relative. Hadassah spokeswoman Yael Bossem-Levy said on Saturday it was still unclear where he would go next. The boy, who has been hospitalized at Hadassah seven times over the last two years, has been treated at the hospital since arriving dangerously underweight, at 7 kilograms. He now weighs more than 10 kilograms. Doctors at Hadassah were the first to suspect the woman was abusing her child, after surveillance video showed her disconnecting his feeding tubes. The video, which is expected to be the central evidence in the woman's trial, has not been made public. The extremist anti-Zionist Eda Haredit group and lawyers for the suspect have denied the allegations of abuse, and have been spearheading a campaign against Hadassah and trying to get the boy removed from the hospital. The decision by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court came after a court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Yakov Weil, concluded the woman did not show any signs of a psychiatric disorder, and that she did not pose a danger to others. Weil's findings were disputed by the chief district psychiatrist. In the ruling, court President Shlomit Dotan said that in contradiction to the psychiatrist's report, there was evidence the mother posed a danger to her child, and criticized police for its handling of the case. Judge Rafi Carmel said the high-profile case, which has spurred days of haredi riots in the capital, had gotten "out of proportion." "Assuming that what we have seen on the child is the mother's work, I don't see the danger for the other children when she is accompanied by an adult. What will she do? Drown the children in the bathtub?" he asked. Authorities hope to question the woman's other children on Sunday, in accordance with an agreement previously reached with their father, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. Police want to investigate suspicions that the woman may have abused two of her other children as well.•