Rabbi Elon to face verdict today on sexual abuse charges

Charges have created a storm in the national-religious sector.

Rabbi Moti Elon 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Rabbi Moti Elon 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The verdict in the case of Rabbi Mordechai Elon, charged with five counts of indecent assault and indecent assault by force against two minors, is due today.
The allegations surrounding Elon have created a storm in the national-religious world in which the rabbi was a leading light until accusations of sexual impropriety against him.
The two main witnesses in the case, alleged victims known as Aleph and Bet, claim separately that Elon touched, kissed and stroked them in an inappropriate manner in private meetings. The incidents in question date back to 2003 and 2005.
Elon, a former dean of the prestigious Yeshivat HaKotel institution, strenuously denies the allegations. The rabbi’s supporters argue that he was accustomed to giving warm hugs to many of his students and that the incidents in the meetings with the two witnesses were misinterpreted.
On Monday night, an interview conducted with Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel last year was published for the first time on the Kipa national-religious news website.
Ariel said that Elon had admitted to the charges against him in a meeting with the Takana Forum of which Ariel is a member.
The forum was established by leading figures of the national-religious community to combat sexual harassment and was the body that initially brought the allegations against Elon to light.
On Tuesday morning however, Ariel strongly protested the publication of the interview a day before the verdict of the trial was due. He said on Army Radio that it was an injustice and damaging to the legal process.
Elon’s legal counsel Attorney Asher Ohayoun made similar comments in response to the publication of the interview, saying that it was intended to influence the result of the trial and argued that Elon never admitted to anyone that he had committed any crimes of a sexual nature.
“These things [admission of guilt] never happened,” said Ohayoun.
“To publish such things two days before the ruling implies that there is a blatant and ugly attempt to influence the court in any way [possible].” In the original interview with Kipa, Ariel insisted that Elon had admitted to the charges in front of members of the Takana forum.
“Rabbi Elon harmed his students in a serious manner, several years ago, and they bore this with them for many years,” Ariel told Kipa.
“The complainants told us the story and he [Elon] admitted the facts and said it was a one-off incident and wouldn’t happen again.
“A year afterwards, additional testimony became known to us that revealed to us that during the same period that he said this was a one-off incident, and that he would no longer be alone with young students he caused a deep emotional crisis for [another] youth...
“Rabbi Elon admitted to all the incidents but said that he had slipped.
In another incident, he admitted, but said he had done it for the boys own good and gave explanations. The bottom line is that he admitted the facts,” said Ariel.
According to the indictment, in January 2003 Elon allegedly held a private meeting in his office at Yeshivat Hakotel with a student, identified as Bet, who had lost a personal acquaintance in a traffic accident that day.
During the meeting, Elon allegedly hugged B, drew him close and kissed him on the neck.
Similar incidents occurred later the same day and again several weeks later.
In July 2005, the indictment alleges that a minor, identified as Aleph, arranged a meeting with Rabbi Elon at the offices of an educational NGO in Jerusalem of which he was the director, in order to discuss a family crisis. Aleph was recommended to speak with Elon by a friend who had previously consulted with the rabbi on personal issues.
At the meeting in his private office, the indictment alleges that Elon forcibly sat Aleph down on his lap and inappropriately stroked him on his head, stomach and knees.
The indictment was filed after Elon refused a plea bargain offered to him by the prosecution.
He was offered a deal in which he would have to enter a guilt plea but would not have been subject to a custodial sentence.