Knesset c'tee demands answers in J'lem pedophile case

More than a dozen perpetrators abused 100 children in small insular neighborhood.

Knesset vote 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset vote 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset members from the Committee for the Rights of the Child expressed their outrage on Tuesday that a year-and- a-half after the largest pedophilia case in Jerusalem was uncovered, many of the suspects were still at large and coming into daily contact with their victims.
The committee held a special discussion about the pedophilia case that rocked a small, insular Jerusalem neighborhood this past year: More than a dozen perpetrators abused at least 100 children, starting as early as 2006.
Five men in their 40s and 50s were arrested in September, but police are still investigating additional claims of abuse.
“This scandal rocked our very foundations,” said MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), who initiated the discussion.
“Worst of all, despite the fact that the affair was exposed a year-and-a-half ago, some of the criminals are still at large and live next door to the victims. Right next to the victims! The children have no way to rehabilitate as long as fear is reigning in their lives,” he said during the discussion.
The discussion, which was not open to the media, included heartbreaking testimony from parents of the victims, according to a statement released after the meeting by the committee.
“G,” a mother of eight – four of whom were abused – said that an eight-year-old girl had testified that she was forced to watch the rape of a two-yearold girl, and that the men told the children that they would burn them alive if they ever spoke about what happened.
“A two-year-old girl used to scream ‘dog, dog!’ for an entire year,” she told the committee.
No one could figure out why, until it turned out that one of the men used to bring a dog that was larger than the children to the house and told the children that the dog would kill them if they told anyone what happened.
She added that two weeks after her son finished 12 hours of testimony for the investigators, she was walking with him to the school bus when he suddenly stopped. “That’s the man,” he told her.
“Why does he have to meet them? What can I answer him, after he’s already given 12 hours of testimony to the investigators? Never before has there been this level of cooperation between the police and the haredi public, and yet the child continues to meet his abuser,” she told the committee.
Police Chief Superintendent Shmuel Ben-Amos said that a special investigative team was set up to investigate the widespread abuse, and that police had taken action to prevent some of the suspects from coming into contact with their abusers.
Five men were arrested in September, though some have been re-released to house arrest. One of the men arrested in September had been previously arrested for similar crimes and was released to house arrest with an electronic bracelet, but he continued to abuse children while on house arrest.
Additionally, police stepped up patrols in the neighborhood, said Ben-mos. “We do not believe that this is organized crime,” Ben-Amos told the committee. “There are a lot of victims but everyone seemed to be acting independently.”
MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), the chairman of the committee, instructed the police and the Jerusalem Municipality to report back in one month to ensure action had been taken to separate the abusers from their victims and the progress of the investigation to identify more abusers.