Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nachlaot Case: Questions raised regarding conviction of Zalman Cohen

Guest Post

Was the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen biased in the judgment of Zalman Cohen?

Recently, Zalman Cohen was convicted and sentenced to 9 years as one of the Nachlaot Pedophiles from the alleged "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring".

All of the material in this article is taken from either the Court Document of Zalman Cohen's verdict, or as a comparison, from the Court Document of Ben Tzion P. who was acquitted of all charges against him.

The verdict for Zalman Cohen was based entirely on the testimony of four minors who testified against him, along with their parents, the child investigators, and psychologists. There was no physical evidence of molestation (such as the presence of DNA or doctors' findings of physical damage to the bodies of the children). The type of evidence presented against him was quite similar in nature to what was presented against Ben Tzion. The children spoke in a way that seemed believable; that is, they did not appear to be intentionally lying. However, there were contradictions and impossibilities in the children's testimonies. The judges in Ben Tzion's case felt that this presented a doubt as to whether Ben Tzion ought to be convicted, and therefore acquitted him.

In the case of Zalman, the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen explained away any problems with the children's testimonies as being due to their confusion since they must have been traumatized by experiencing the sexual molestation that had allegedly occurred.

The defense did not bring any personal eye witnesses in Zalman's favor. Zalman claimed that no one wanted to endanger themselves by testifying, but the judge dismissed that. (However, it is understandable that people would not want to get involved out of fear that they would also be accused of being members of the "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring".) The defense also brought two expert witnesses, who stated that children under pressure are likely to generate false memories that are indistinguishable from memories of actual events which transpired. The judge also dismissed the expert witnesses' statements about false memories.

The judge acknowledged that there had been some contamination of the children's testimonies in the Nachlaot Pedophile Case, and that there had been panic and gossip in the neighborhood, but decided that this did not invalidate the testimony of the four children who testified against Zalman in the case. The four minors who testified against Zalman were:

1. "Dalet", who also testified against Ben Tzion. She was the child who testified that the children undressed outside Ben Tzion's house. The judge decided that since she did not live in the neighborhood, but only came to visit her cousin, she would not have been exposed to the gossip. That is simply not true. She definitely heard the gossip from her cousins and relatives, regarding Zalman and others. Here is a quote regarding her testimony with regards to Zalman which appeared in the decision made by the judges in Ben Tzion's trial:

בתשובה לשאלות נוספות התבקשה לתת תיאור של זלמן שהיה בחדר ואמרה שהוא נראה חרדי מחופש. כאשר נשאלה מנין היא יודעת שהוא מחופש, אמרה: "אבא של בת דודה שלי אמר" (עמ' 18, שורה 29).

[Translation: In answer to additional questions, she was asked to give a description of Zalman who was in the room, and said that he looked like he was disguising himself as a Chareidi. When she was asked from where she knows that he

In contrast, in his statement regarding the conviction of Zalman, the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen did not even mention the above statement.

"Dalet" also contradicted herself on the two occasions in which she was interrogated regarding Zalman. The first time she said he didn't do anything but just watched. The second time, she said he did participate to some extent. The judge, in point 37, dismissed the contradiction and stated that the fact that she contradicted herself increased her reliability as an witness.

The judge did mention the fact that "Dalet" was discussing the events with others in between the interrogation sessions by the child investigators (in point 46). Also, he mentioned how the mother of "Dalet" pressured her to say something about the possibility of being molested (in point 47). But in the end, in his point 48, he decided that the contamination of "Dalet's" testimony by these outside factors was not of any significance.

2. "Yud" was the second child who testified. He stated that he was forced to touch a girl's genitalia during an event when boys and girls were paired up. When asked what the girl's genitals were like, he said they were just like a boy's genitals. The expert child investigator expressed his opinion that at least this part of the boy's testimony represented an event which had not occurred. However, the judge decided to disagree with the expert child investigator's opinion in this instance, and stated that he believed the event must have really occurred but that since the child was so traumatized he didn't remember that a girl's parts are different from a boy's parts.

3. "Shin" was the third child who testified.  The mother of Shin admitted to trying to force her child to say something for several hours, with such force that "Shin" ultimately had her eyes roll back and fainted. Subsequently, the mother took "Shin" to repeated therapy sessions in order to get her to talk about being molested. Although initially "Shin" denied being molested and said she didn't remember anything ever occurring, after the extreme pressure from her mother, and the repeated pressure from the therapist, "Shin" finally said that she "remembers". Rather than recognize that the mother was putting a strong amount of pressure on her child, which in and of itself was a traumatic experience which would be a strong inducement to generate a false memory, the judge felt that the child's fainting must be evidence that she had undergone sexual molestation by Zalman Cohen and others.

The judge's reasoning was that the mother and therapist didn't tell her what to say specifically, but just asked her to tell about being molested. Also the judge decided that because of the numerous details that "Shin" gave when she "remembered" the alleged molestation, it was unlikely that she had made it up. However, the research on false memory generation indicates that it is not necessary to ask specific questions in order to generate richly detailed false memories of events which did not occur in young children, and that the children actually believe the richly detailed stories that they tell. For example, some research was done in which it was suggested to children that they had experienced a number of events, some true and some false. One of the false events was the experience of having a finger caught in a mouse trap and having to go to the hospital to be treated for that. A number of children generated richly detailed storied about having their finger caught in a mouse trap even though the event had never occurred. (See the scientific research article: http://www.shoreline.edu/dchri s/psych209/Documents/Ceci% 20and%20Loftus.pdf)
"Shin" described in detail how she went from one apartment (Ben Tzion's) to another apartment (Binyamin's) and then a third apartment (Zalman's). The judge felt that the detail of how she went from one house to the next was quite impressive. But almost every child in the neighborhood would have been able to describe how to go to each of those houses (regardless of whether they had been molested or not), even if their parents had not taken them on a tour to see where they were. And the parents did take the neighborhood children on tours to ask them if they had been in those houses (as the judge mentioned at several places in his statement). The neighborhood is quite small, and gossips a lot. It would be amazing if there would be any resident of the neighborhood, child or adult, who didn't know exactly where those three individuals lived.

In addition "Shin" described in detail similar though not identical events that allegedly occurred in all three apartments. In all three apartments, there were similar details about watching a soccer movie, being in a bathtub, and the presence of a stick of some kind. (See point 112 in the judge's statement.) The events seem absurd and pointless. The judge stated that the reason for the similarity was that the three individuals, Ben Tzion, Binyamin, and Zalman acted together in most circumstances and that is why the events described are similar. However, nowhere did "Shin" say that all three men were present together at the time of watching the soccer movies, sitting in the bathtub, or during any of the alleged events. So I don't know how the judge arrived at that conclusion. Also, the judge made much of the fact that "Shin" did not say that Ben Tzion tried to sit on the stick "Eastern style", but instead used the stick to hit her, while the other two men sat on the stick. Therefore since the events she described were similar but not identical, they must be true, according to the judge.

4. "Mem" was the fourth child who testified. "Mem" stated that he was in Binyamin's house and that many of the other alleged pedophiles who were on the "list" were there, including Zalman. A movie was watched in which there was "Pritzut" (in English: "Immodesty"). One has to be knowledgeable about the Chareidi outlook to understand what "Immodesty" means to them. A movie with "Immodesty" would not necessarily mean a pornographic movie, but could simply be a movie in which girls were wearing short sleeved shirts and pants. Also, perhaps this is not common knowledge, but most Chareidim forbid the watching of any movies whatsoever, which makes it much more tempting for a child to want to go to someone else who has a computer where he can watch a movie for entertainment. I have no doubt that many Chareidi children whose parents forbid the watching of movies, probably do go to the houses of other people to watch movies.

"Mem" also acknowledged that there was extensive discussion of all the alleged pedophiles in the neighborhood, between himself and others.

The judge discounted the possibility that the panic and discussions in the neighborhood could have caused "Mem" to have a false memory. However, he didn't discuss at all the possibility that there could have been a real memory that was distorted. Perhaps at some time "Mem" did go to Binyamin's house, and watched a movie. But were all those other people (including Zalman) present? Did they undress?

The judge found support for "Mem's" testimony, from his mother's testimony. His mother said that "Mem" used to wet his bed up until the age of 12 years, and that after he gave his testimony, he was able to get over that problem. Therefore, the judge concluded that this proves he must have been molested and that giving his testimony made him feel better. However, there could be other explanations for why "Mem" got over his bed-wetting problem. Perhaps he simply matured and grew out of it.

In contrast, the judge also found support from the fact that after "Mem's" siblings testified, their mother stated that they seemed to get worse and develop more emotional problems than they had before. According to the judge, if a child's behavior and emotional state improved after giving testimony, that meant the child must have been molested. But if a child's behavior and emotional state got worse after giving testimony, that also meant the child must have been molested.

Although the Honorable Judge Amnon Cohen does not mention Ritual Abuse, he does mention the strange nature of the abuse as seen in the testimony of "Shin" but this does not seem to bother him. What is not seen in the Court Document of Zalman Cohen is what the parents claim occurred.

In order to understand the underlying point of view of the parents making the accusations against Zalman Cohen and the other alleged "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring" members, I think it is important to look at the lengthy documents which have been published by someone on the "rotter.net" website, under the pseudonym "Sheleg". In particular, the claim is made that the purpose of the "Nachlaot Pedophile Ring" was to perform ritual child abuse in order to convert the children to Christianity. The reason to understand the underlying point of view of the parents is to truly understand that either: 1) everything they say is true (including the claims of tunnels and secret rooms) and the Nachlaot Pedophile Ring really exists and the diabolical purpose of it all is to try to convert their children to Christianity, or 2) nothing they say is true at all and they are totally insane in their beliefs and outlooks, or 3) some of what they say is true, but their beliefs are mixed with a lot of crazy thoughts and one must be very careful before condemning anyone based on the testimony of these parents and their children.

What also needs to be looked at is not only the evidence presented regarding these four children who testified in the case against Zalman, but also the testimonies given by the other children which were not presented. These four children were among approximately 80 children that testified, and only these four were accepted by the child investigators. (In Ben Tzion's trial the judges requested to look at the testimony of the other children which the child investigators had rejected, in order to get a better overall picture of what actually happened.) The parents claim that all of these children were also molested, as well as others that did not testify. This supposedly went on for years. Nachlaot was one busy place and yet no one noticed.

Makes me wonder.


  1. Based on what you wrote here, there seems to be very strong grounds for appeal. Is Zalman planning on appealing this conviction?

  2. There is a Muslim sector who deny it was Muslims who committed the 9/11 atrocity. They blame it on the Zionists. Hareidi extremists are no less rational, and they cannot accept that someoe who was a "dayan" for the Posek hador would be involved in such a crime.

  3. the anonymous writer wishes to exact strict standards of consistency from children who suffered serious abuse. The Justice system that brougth the prosecution would be aware of the fact that this is not the same kind of case as might be for witnesses to robbery, for example.
    perhaps the witnesses would not be "valid" in a Bet din, but that does not mean that the crimes did not take place. In any case, a hareidi Rabbinic bet din would most likely be possul, because of negios.

  4. "the anonymous writer wishes to exact strict standards of consistency from children who suffered serious abuse."

    That's precisely the question: Did they suffer serious abuse or not?

    " The Justice system that brougth the prosecution would be aware of the
    fact that this is not the same kind of case as might be for witnesses
    to robbery"

    Your blind faith in the justice system is touching, if misplaced.

    "a hareidi Rabbinic bet din would most likely be possul, because of negios."


  5. And those who hate hareidim are no less ratonal themselves, and cannot conceive of a circumstance in which a hareidi accused of a crime might actually be innocent.

  6. here is a translation of a report in Israel Hayom

    The anonymous post is simply trying to deny that any wrongdoing has taken place. We have seen in numerous cases how the hareidi leadership try to cover up crimes committed by their own fold. Are all the witness statements in the report also false , and nothing actually took place? Cover ups take place all the time, hence Nochum Rosenberg is always being attacked for blowing the whistle.

  7. In fact, the Israel Hayom article you link to includes a link to Tablet Magazine, which casts considerable doubt on the whole tale. (And before you start again with your hareidi-coverup mantra, be aware that Tablet is not hareidi.)


  8. Eddie, After reading the update to the article you posted a link to, I would certainly question the truth of the witness statements (children's testimonies)
    Also, I don't understand your objections to this post. It seems to me that if what is said is true, then there is valid reasons to question the verdict in this case.

    "The acts reported by the children, nearly all between the ages of 3 and 9, are incredibly horrific and often very bizarre. Virtually none of the allegations involve only one molester and one victim; the children have consistently claimed multiple offenders and multiple victims. There are reports of orgies involving as many as 20 adults and more than a dozen children. There were, allegedly, frequent raping and forced sodomy of children as young as 2 years old. The children claim that various objects—including large branches, semi-automatic rifles, screwdrivers, and other carpenter’s tools—were forcibly stuck up their anuses and other orifices; that knives were held to their throats; that they were told that if they didn’t voluntarily return to be raped, they would be “chopped up into little pieces,” or that their entire families would be murdered. They claim that they were shown, by way of threat, the guns that would be used for this purpose and told that cameras had been installed in their homes to ascertain their silence. The children claim that they were, on various occasions, bound up and beaten, held on top of open flames, lashed with sticks, burned with chemicals, given soft drinks spiked with hallucinogens, and injected with drugs.

    The majority of the allegations include reports of video-recording and photography, and the children say they were forced to watch pornographic movies and violent sexual encounters between their abusers. Some children say they were abducted at night from their homes, viciously abused, and returned to their beds. Others say they were abducted from school and then returned. Babysitters were said to be threatened with severe physical punishment or death unless they brought the children in their care to the pedophiles. There are reports of witches, magic doors, secret basements, and large dogs used to intimidate the children. Many allegations include elements of ritual and Christian abuse, including forced prostration and benedictions, sexual acts involving massive iron crosses, and various other forms of foreign worship. Some children say they were taken to a nearby church, where they were abused by priests, as well as other undercover Christians."

  9. The Tablet article does not say it is a tale - it says that the evidence is problematic. There are often cases in criminal law where the police know that somebody committed a crime, but their evidence isn't strong enough to stand up in a court. Because the secular courts have a presumption of innocence.

    The community know that things have gone on. they are not savvy and do nto know about forensic evidence, psychology etc, they have no tvs or computers, and do nto have psychologists close at hand. since the investigation was retrospective, there was little forensic evidence available.

  10. "Nonsense" - why? ZC was apparently on a covnersion BD from the previous Posek hador. he was also involved in raping potential converts, and was in prison for this. R' Elyahsiv got him released from prison. There is your negios.

  11. "...that someone who was a "dayan" for the Posek hador would be involved in such a crime".

    Where are you getting your information from? To the best of my knowledge, Zalman was never a "dayan". I don't think that he even has "semicha"!

  12. Hareidi on hareidi crime, btw. It is like when, lehavdil, there are arab on arab crimes, or black on black, and the outside world is not too fussed. In fact, Muslims get very offended when you tell them about this, and so do hareidim.

  13. Your hatred blinds you.

  14. You're the one with endless negius. You're anti-charedi bias bleeds from every word you write.

  15. Most people get "fussed" when they are accused of bad behavior and they believe the accusations to be unfounded. So what?

  16. I guess Rabbi Elyashiv must have censored any articles by main media news and destroyed any record about ZC's previous conviction for rape since no such articles exist. This would have been a big story. - Rabbi on conversion BD convicted of raping potential converts. ZC on a conversion BD? You are dreaming.

  17. if the case was some chiloni shmendrick, you wouldn't give 2 hoots about him.

  18. we all have negius, I would be a fool to deny that i have "interests"

  19. the parents of many kids were making the reports to the authorities , were they all making up false accusations?


  20. Says you, in your endless demonizing of chareidim. You produce vitriol by the gallon.

  21. Did you even bother to read the Tablet article that you yourself posted? Apparently not.

    I recommend that you read Dorothy Rabinowitz's writing on the Amirault case. Your mind might be opened a bit. And guess what -- Amirault is not charedi, nor even Jewish! Still, I sympathize with him. Beyond your imagining, I know.

  22. I guess you missed this, and the comments


    "Rabbi Zalman Cohen was part of rabbi Nachum Eisenstein beis din and that
    was the reason Rav Amar told the regional batei din to reject all this
    beit din conversions."

    It is a problem, since in the brainwash pres that Hareidim read, whenever they mention conversion, they say int he same breathe "the vaad l'inyonei Giur" set up by Gavad R' Kreisworth"

    This vaad has been passed on to Eisenstein. In the above post, R' Tzadok comments further down the follwoing: "I also know that Rabbi Eliashiv, on the word of Rabbi Eisenstein, vouched for Zalman Cohen when various accusations were made against him, and was instrumental in securing his early release for his rape conviction, insisting then that the man had been framed."

    R' Tzadok is based in or near Nachlaot and had his finger ont he pulse at the time the story broke out.

  23. Did you mean to respond to Tahini or IsraelReader? I have no opinion and expressed no opinion on all this conspiracy stuff regarding a relationship between this person and R' Elyashiv.

  24. "Brand" wrote there: "Rabbi Zalman Cohen was part of rabbi Nachum Eisenstein beis din".

    That statement is not corroborated in any way. How do we know that? The statement is is also ambiguous. Exactly in what capacity did Zalman serve there? Sectretary? "Dayan"? Janitor?

    As far as I know, Zalman was merely the "life coach" of Ohel Sara Imenu, Sarah Vors't conversion program. A "life coach" is NOT a "dayan".

    Neither does Rabbi Tzadok confirm Zalman's "dayanus". He merely claims that on R' Eisenstein's say so, R' Elayashev went out on a limb for Zalman.

    I'm not saying that Zalman is the biggest saint in the world. He might even have been guilty of the old rape charges, but that still doesn't make him guilty of pedophilia in this DIFFERENT case. Throw the book at him, IF he's guilty. But don't let his previous guilt color your judgement in the this case.

    The point of my comments are twofold. One, to correct the chilul Hashem raised by Eddie that "a dayan for the Posek hador would be involved in such a crime". I repeat my assertion, that to the best of my knowledge, Zalman was
    never a "dayan". In fact, I don't think that he even has "semicha".

    Second, is my belief, is that the legal process in any country should be fair, untainted, and unbiased.

    If it can be demonstrated that a judge case used different standards for different defendants, that raises the question of the judge's neutrality, and his ability to accurately judge each case on its own merits.

    In Zalman's case, we see that the two defendants, with very similar circumstances and witnesses, received very different verdicts. This raises a valid question as to whether or not the judge was biased in judging Zalman.

  25. "Rabbi Eisenstein, vouched for Zalman Cohen when various accusations were made against him, and was instrumental in securing his early release for his rape conviction"
    Yes R Tzadok seems to be privy to a lot of information that simply does not exist anywhere else. Zalman's 'conviction' and jail sentence that he was supposedly released early from is not mentioned in any court documents or any real media outlets.

    As for the comments, do they really need to be repeated? Especially the comment by Daat Torah in response to one of your comments there.

  26. Reader, you raise some interesting points.
    I am relying on infomration I have sen previously on this blog. You are saying that Z was "was merely the "life coach" of Ohel Sara Imenu, Sarah Vors't conversion program." merely?
    So the maximum you are admitting is that Z was connected to the Eisenstein covnersion industry. And since eisenstein's monster was under the halachic tutelage of the Gadol hador, then implied by your statement is a strong negius between the gadol and the rapist. This is not a "conspiracy theory" it also does not detract form the chillul Hashem, especially since you accept that he may have bene guilty of raping the poor girls that Frankenstein was trying to convert (under strict halachic standards).
    And who exactly appointed this criminal as a "life coach"?

    Your other point, that one crime doesnt make another is also correct. That is why they do not mention in secular courts the previous criminal record of a defendant, since they presume their innocence. However, as i said before, someitmes the police or authorities know a person committed a crime, but cannot satisfy the strict requirement for

    a conviction. Since neither of us are supreme court judges, this discussion is not about the sentence, but about various theories of what occurred. the judge may have had more insight tot he case than either you or i do, and thus chose to be strict.

    In any case, whether he held dayanus or not is irrelevant, since he does not need otbe dayan in order to be a dayan - case in point, R' metzger.

  27. As far as I'm concerned, the current discussion IS about the sentence, NOT about the theories of what occurred.

    No outsider can know with 100% certainty what really did or didn't happen. Therefore my discussion focuses entirely the integrity of the judicial process.

    The judge obviously will not reveal that his judgment was colored by a previous conviction. But could it have been an influencing factor?

  28. What previous conviction? There was no previous conviction. If there was there would be some record of it in the papers or previous court documents. Do a search. The internet is an amazing tool.


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