Monday, March 27, 2017

The sect that wasn’t:The false claims of Satanic Abuse in Sanhedria Murchevet

After more than two years of in-depth investigation, the police has reached a conclusion that the rumors regarding the existence of a sect, the members of which torture children and make them convert to Christianity, are nothing but baseless rumors. 

Today “Chadrei Charedim” is revealing the workings of the criminal group. In order to understand it better, let us go back in time to August 2011, when the biggest ever case of attacks recorded in Israel was revealed to the public. The prosecution pressed charges against three suspects, who were indicted for attacking dozens of children aged 3-12 and extorting money from them in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot.

The tension in the neighborhood was not alleviated after the enquiry and the indictment. The residents claimed that the police is disqualifying testimonies and releasing suspects, and that there are still dangerous people roaming the neighborhood and harming the children. 

Stories were told of one of the neighborhood residents, who was 72 at the time, claiming the existence of a basement filled with missionary literature. The elderly woman was attacked and severely harmed”.

This case stirred Jerusalem in general and the Charedi community in particular, and thus it served as a fertile ground for extorting money. According to the police, that is when D. began her activity on a large scale, persuading many Sanhedria residents that there is an active Christian sect operating in the neighborhood, serving large Christian organizations, whose goal is to convert the children, to kidnap them to monasteries and to torture them.

We received information regarding a known Charedi Talmud Torah receiving an offer from the suspect, claiming that since there are dangerous people operating in the neighborhood, she would be prepared to donate a limited number of security cameras to be installed in the cheder, for “catching the suspects”. The administration of the cheder was persuaded and allowed for the security cameras to be installed. However, this caused an utter panic among the parents, who demanded that the director of the cheder invests more in providing security for the children. The administration gave in to the pressure and purchased dozens of additional cameras- However, suspicious people never showed up in the camera recordings.

It appears that while the parents were panicking, D. approached the neighborhood rabbis, and carried on about the “terrible deeds” that are taking place in the neighborhood, and the rumor began to travel at a double speed. D. approached the parents and the administration of the cheder, regarding specific children who, according to her, were “in need of a treatment”.

As the police suspects, D. proceeded to refer them to B., who is also originally from abroad, who is a certified therapist, and she began seeing the children. In accordance with the testimonies which we have received, it appears that by means of specifically formulated questions the “therapist” managed to eventually influence the children, and to install in their minds a “memory” of being kidnapped, transported to a monastery, and tortured. Which, needless to say, never took place. She showed them pictures of monasteries, asking, “which one of these did they take you to?” at first, the children denied that such events ever took place; however, with time, they were persuaded that these things really took place.

One of the rabbis in the neighborhood and two businessmen were accordingly persuaded, and composed a list of hundreds of children, who were “harmed by the sect”, however, they refused to cooperate with any investigation efforts, since, as they claimed, the Christians managed to bribe the authorities, making it futile to seek help with the official agents of the law.

While this was taking place, there were others who refused to buy into the “cult” narrative, among them - the judges from the Eida charedis, the activists from the “Neighborhood purity committee” (Vaad Le-Tohar Ha-Machane), and other rabbis. 

About a year and a half ago, it was publicized that parts of the security cameras recordings were deleted, since they recorded indecent acts taking place in the cheder. The police proceeded to open an investigation; however, within a short time they proved the suspicion to be ungrounded. Obviously, this did not help the parents to feel reassured as to the safety of their children. Many of them proceeded to enrol their children in other institutions.

As it seems from the primary investigation, the suspect in collaboration with her partners in crime, managed to gather vast donations from abroad as well as from within Israel, claiming the existence of the cult and the battle that was being waged against it. The funds she managed to obtain, including the payments for the “therapy”, measure well above 1.5 USD. 

The police performed a complex, lengthy and thorough investigation, as necessary in the light of the severity of the claims. Yesterday, when the investigation was finally completed, three suspects were arrested and questioned by the police, regarding the allegations of child abuse, (i.e. persuading them that they were kidnapped and causing them emotional trauma constitutes child abuse) and unlawful obtaining of donations
The investigation was supervised by the Jerusalem district attorneys and the social services. D. and another man were brought in today to the district court in Jerusalem where they were ordered under home arrest until the next hearing, which is scheduled to take place next Tuesday.  [...]

Rabbis Baum and rabbi Berkowitz, who are community rabbis, said that they were involved in dealing with this issue, and now that it has been taken care of, surely this school is as safe as any other.

Attorney Yinon Sartel, who is representing the defendant, has addressed the allegations, and said in a statement to the Chadrei Charedim, that the suspect has been waging a lengthy battle on behalf of the children who have suffered from indecent acts and harassment. “She has been working in collaboration with the social services, and ensured that the children received appropriate therapy, she involved a Knesset committee, inviting them for a tour of the neighborhood of Nachlaot; and even persuaded many children to file a complaint at the police station - and some of the complaints ended in conviction.” 

“She was the only hope for many children in those neighborhoods. She complained time and again about the police lack of action and competence in their dealings with the issue, therefore she was forced to gather donations from generous people, to fill in the gap left by the police inaction.”

According to him, evidence was gathered in order to bring the criminals to court only thanks to the efforts of the private investigator she hired. “So it seems, that her filling the void that was left by their inaction, irritated them, and they proceeded to make up this whole thing, as if she lied to the donors when describing the issues, there is nothing more outrageous than this claim”. 

Sartel says, “From her point of view, this struggle is essential; how can one come now and call her a liar - she believes this with her whole heart, and she has plenty of evidence available to prove that this activity is really taking place, but the police chooses the path of inaction. Instead of going after the true perpetrators of these crimes, they decided to attack her, and to level baseless accusation on her. 

The judge did not accept the claims presented by the police, and did not extend her detention by four days as requested, but stated that the case is a “legitimate weak suspicion”, and released her under home arrest.”  [...]

No comments :

Post a Comment

please use either your real name or a pseudonym.