Man charged with abusing mentally ill mother

Victor Chernish, 42, allegedly would hit, strangle, tie up his mother who suffered from schizophrenia.

Justice gavel court law book judge 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Justice gavel court law book judge 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
A Rishon Lezion man subjected his mentally ill mother to severe abuse, including beating and strangling her, according to an indictment filed in the Central District Court on Thursday.
Viktor Chernish, 42, was the court-appointed legal guardian of his mother, Nina, the indictment said.
According to the indictment, Nina suffered from schizophrenia and had spent much of her life in closed psychiatric facilities in Ukraine, until Chernish brought her to Israel in 2004.
Once in Israel, she was admitted to a psychiatric facility.
However, in 2010 Chernish released his mother from hospital and brought her to his Rishon Lezion home, where she stayed until she died last month, the indictment said. Nina was made her son’s ward of court, making him responsible for her welfare and finances.
After Chernish brought his mother to live with him, the indictment alleges, he began to abuse her, habitually binding her hands and feet together, putting a towel into her mouth and taping it closed, and even tying the mentally ill woman to various objects in his home, including a bicycle.
Occasionally, Chernish would go out and leave his mother locked up in a tiny room without food or drink for hours, the indictment said.
Allegedly, in March 2011 Chernish left his mother locked in a tiny laundry room for several hours, until her screams caused neighbors to call the police, who broke into the house and rescued her.
Last month, the indictment alleges, Chernish left his mother locked alone in a room overnight, while he went out with a friend to pray.
A few days after that, Chernish forcibly removed his mother from the house by beating her and dragging her down the stairs, the indictment charges. He then allegedly shoved his mother into a taxi, and he and a friend drove with her to Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem, Chernish took Nina to the Church of the Nativity, where he prayed for her, the indictment alleges, but on the way back to their hotel the two began to fight, and Chernish choked his mother.
Two days later, while still in Bethlehem, Chernish allegedly choked his mother again, this time so hard that her hyoid bone fractured.
When Chernish and his mother returned to Rishon Lezion, his mother’s physical and mental condition began to deteriorate, the indictment said.
With her hyoid bone fractured, Nina found it difficult to eat, and developed pneumonia with a high fever, the indictment alleges, and although the sick woman cried and was agitated Chernish did not take her to see a doctor.
Instead, in what were to be the final few days of his mother’s life, Chernish allegedly tied Nina’s legs together with a rope, tied her hands with a belt, and then fastened the belt to his mother’s legs.
Nina Chernish was left tied up on the floor for hours, naked, with just a few sheets over her body, the indictment said, though Chernish would release some of the bonds to allow her to eat.
For the last few days of Nina’s life, Chernish stuffed her mouth with a damp towel and tied it in place with duct tape, so she could not talk, the indictment alleges.
Between April 16 and 17, the indictment said, Chernish’s mother slept all night with the towel stuffed in her mouth and secured with duct tape, after being left tied up naked on the floor all day.
On April 18, the last day of her life, Chernish allegedly sat his mother at the dining table with her legs still tied, and took the towel out of her mouth so she could eat.
However, Nina Chernish suffocated to death at around 8.30 p.m., after inhaling food.
Alongside the indictment, the DA also filed a request that Chernish be remanded in custody throughout the legal proceedings against him.
That request says Magen David Adom paramedics found Nina Chernish on April 18 lying on naked on the floor, her legs bound and pieces of tape hanging around her neck.
An autopsy report said the woman had died from choking, caused either by an obstruction in her upper respiratory tract, manual pressure on her neck or by inhaling food.
Chernish is charged under the Penal Code with violence against a helpless person while in the capacity of legal guardian, which entails a maximum seven-year prison sentence; and with violating his obligations as a responsible person, which attracts a three-year prison sentence.