Key suspect in Jerusalem child abuse case arrested

Father locates wanted 'educator' and turns him in to police.

domestic abuse 88 (photo credit: )
domestic abuse 88
(photo credit: )
A key suspect in a Jerusalem child abuse case was arrested Wednesday in a forest on the outskirts of the city, after the father of the abused children turned him in to police, the police said. Shimon Gabbai, who was one of two main suspects wanted by police, was hiding in the forest when he was located by the children's father and apprehended, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. The suspect, who had previously managed to flee from police, has been "directly connected" to the horrific child abuse case, both by the children and by other suspects, a police representative told the court at a remand hearing. The Jerusalem court remanded him in custody for seven days on Wednesday. Gabbai appeared in court with a bloodied handkerchief under his eye, as the children's father apparently beat him before turning him over to police investigators. The alleged abuser's attorney told the court that the handkerchief was not connected to "any of the police investigators." During his interrogation, Gabbai, who has no previous criminal record, linked himself to the places in which the abuse occurred, but denied taking part in the specific abuse of the children, which included severe beatings, whippings and burnings, the police representative told the court. Meanwhile, Jerusalem Police said Wednesday that they planned to issue an international arrest warrant "in the next few days" for the other key suspect, an extremist rabbi who fled to Canada and is considered to be the ringleader and mentor in the abuse case. Rabbi Elior Chen and his followers are suspected of severely abusing two children, aged three and four, who were savagely and systematically beaten with hammers, knives and other instruments for months until the three-year-old lost consciousness last month. The child suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother and her companions, according to an indictment filed against the mother this week in a Jerusalem court. He is expected to remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. Chen, who served as a spiritual mentor to the mother and who provided explicit written instruction how to abuse the children, fled the country last month to avoid arrest after the case came to light. According to the charge sheet, the woman's relationship with her husband broke down last year. When she expressed her desire to divorce him, he left their Jerusalem home, leaving his eight children in the care of his wife and two men whose job it was to educate them. The men, who allegedly carried out the abuse with the mother, received instruction from Chen on how to "fix" the children's behavior, and "cleanse" them of their Satanic possession, the indictment says. The chilling charge sheet recounted that the mother had allegedly forced her children to eat feces, locked them in a suitcase for three days - letting them out only for brief periods - repeatedly beaten, whipped, and shaken them, burnt their hands with a lighter and a heater, and given them freezing showers. The abusive mother and "educators" are also suspected of pouring salt on one child's burn wounds, stuffing his mouth with a skullcap and sealing his mouth with masking tape, and giving the children alcoholic drinks until they vomited. Since her arrest last month, the mother, who is still in custody, has repeatedly been shown pictures of her children's injuries, but on most of her days in remand, she did not inquire about the children or who was taking care of them, the police said.