Police probe father of 12 in child abuse case

Police are now trying to determine if the father knew of - or participated in - the alleged abuse and incest.

haredi cult woman 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
haredi cult woman 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A father of 12 children who were allegedly abused for years by their mother was arrested after getting off a plane at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday, police said. His 54-year-old wife is also suspected of failing to report multiple cases of incest among her children. On Tuesday, she was remanded in custody. Police are now trying to determine if the father knew of - or participated in - the alleged abuse and incest at the family's home in Ramat Beit Shemesh. "The question we are investigating is, did he know [what was going on], and if he knew, why was he silent," said Supt. Roni Markovitch, head of investigations at the Beit Shemesh police station. The father has spent the last month in the US, seeking charitable donations for his family. Police suspect that the children were violently abused over the course of many years, including whippings with belts and electric cables. According to a police representative at the mother's remand hearing in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, the family avoided police detection - despite years of reports of neglect and violence - by repeatedly moving around the country, and by refusing to cooperate with social workers and community officials. Neighbors in Ramat Beit Shemesh said Wednesday that they had known that "bad things" were going on in the household, even as they expressed shock over the extent of the alleged abuse. A teenage friend of one of the family's children, who lives next door, told Israel Radio how one of the teens was tied up for seven hours in the yard of the house as punishment, and was forced to urinate and defecate in his pants, his mother oblivious to his pleas to let him go to the toilet. "What this woman did was an abomination of God," a neighbor said. "She did the exact opposite of what 'religious' is." The mother of the family, who cannot be named because of a court order, appeared in court on Tuesday covered from head to toe in black. She has confessed to some of the allegations against her. For the past several months, only two of the couple's 12 children, who range in age from eight to 33, lived with the mother. They have since been removed from the home by welfare authorities. The case is the third recent known case of severe alleged child abuse in Israel, and comes less than two weeks after a haredi immigrant family from the US living in the capital's exclusive Wolfson apartment complex, were arrested for allegedly seriously abusing their two boys, aged three and four. The three-year-old remains in critical condition, with severe head injuries. The father, who had not lived at the family's home for some time, has since been released from detention, while the mother remains in police custody. Police are searching for another suspect in that case.