Court: 'Starving mom' should stay away from Mea She'arim

Starving mother banish

The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Tuesday that the haredi woman who allegedly starved her three-year-old son almost to death will be banished from the Mea She'arim neighborhood and placed under house arrest. The woman was taken into custody in July after allegations surfaced that she had physically and emotionally abused her three-year-old boy. According to the charge sheet, the suspect mistreated the toddler for more than a year, going so far as to fool doctors in Jerusalem hospitals by inducing or exacerbating his "untreatable" illnesses. Haredim in the capital mounted large protests against the arrest, and the court ordered the woman to house arrest in her Mea She'arim home, where her four other children, but not the three-year-old, were living. The suspect did not deny the allegations against her. The state had originally demanded that she be held in prison until the end of the proceedings or at least be separated from her children, for fear she would abuse them. At first, Judge Moshe Ravid said the suspect "clearly hurt [the child] physically and mentally," and that there was a possibility she would harm her other children in the future. Ultimately, however, Ravid decided to place the woman under house arrest, "because I could not stop picturing these children... crying as their mother is taken away from them." Ravid said that close and regular supervision by social services would reduce the possibility of the children coming to harm. He stressed that such supervision would have to be conducted outside the closed, inward-looking society of Mea She'arim. According to the judge's decision, the suspect will be required to rent an apartment outside the Mea She'arim area, where she will be placed under 24-hour surveillance by women who agreed to vouch for her. In addition, she will be required to undergo regular psychiatric treatment and take the children to the doctor on a regular basis for evaluation. A nurse will visit her home in the mornings and afternoons. The suspect's attorneys said Ravid's decision was "humane" due to the emphasis it put on ensuring the children's welfare. The attorneys praised the court for overlooking "the state's cruel request to separate the mother from her children." If the mother fails to move out of Mea She'arim by the end of next week and to comply with the conditions imposed on her, she may be required to serve a prison sentence.