One year after Israeli police raided the Tel Aviv headquarters of a suspected polygamist cult that involved some 40 children and 20 women, welfare authorities say they are still dealing intensely with the fallout and rehabilitation process of the cult members
The 20 wives and 40 children of the yet-to-be convicted cult leader Goel Ratzon continue to receive a wide range of welfare services, including constant psychological monitoring.
The woman who exposed a polygamist cult whose leader was later charged with enslaving and abusing his numerous “wives” says the authorities have abandoned her, giving her none of the help and benefits that other women in her predicament have received.
She was the first of Goel Ratzon
‘s “wives” who managed to escape and file a police complaint, launching the covert inquiry that culminated with his arrest
two years later.
Alleged polygamist cult leader Goel Ratzon
will remain in custody until the end of all court proceedings against him, the Tel Aviv District Court decided yesterday.
Ratzon is accused
of a litany of sex and assault crimes against his 17 female partners and their children, whom he allegedly subjugated to slave-like conditions.
Law enforcement and welfare officials have begun their attempt to bring ‘polygamist cult’ leader Goel Ratzon to justice, but experts told Ynet Tuesday that the process of rehabilitating the women ‘married’ to him would be a lengthy one.
Gabi Zohar, a social worker with years of experience caring for cult victims, explained that even the women who are rehabilitated will probably remain emotionally fragile.
Israeli cult leader Goel Ratzon was indicted Sunday on multiple charges, including with rape, sodomy, enslavement, sexual abuse within the family and several other offenses.
“The suspect enslaved and appropriated his 21 wives
for many years, in acts which contradict social norms, in a way which was common during the darkest times of human history,” the prosecutor said.
“The work of the police and the welfare services on this case would have been so much easier if Israel had specific anti-cult legislation,” says Dr Habi Zohar, a specialist on sects
who counsels families who have lost members to cult
Zohar also advises the Israeli Center for Cult Victims
, which collected testimonies from Goel Ratzon’s wives over the past year.
The investigation of a suspected cult
leader accused of raping and enslaving scores of women took a dramatic turn on Friday after one of his alleged victims gave indications that she may agree to cooperate with authorities.
It has also been revealed that one of Ratzon’s wives cooperated with the police, providing them with the evidence necessary to carry out the arrest.
A 59-year-old cult leader from south Tel Aviv who was romantically involved with 17 women and fathered 40 children with them was arrested on Tuesday morning on suspicion of “enslaving” members of his group and raping a number of the women.
Ratzon is considered by his companions to be the savior (Goel in Hebrew) of the universe, and is attributed godly and supernatural abilities.
They tattoo his image on their arms. They give their children, all 89 of them, versions of his name: Saviour. And at night, they – his 32 wives – wait expectantly to be chosen by him to share his bed at one of the four apartment buildings in Tel Aviv where they live together.
How does Mr. Ratzon, an unemployed, pot-bellied, white-haired man almost 60 years old, succeed in making a host of young attractive women dedicate their bodies and lives to him? And how in the world does he get away with it?
“I am perfect,” Mr. Ratzon explained. “I have all the characteristics that a woman wants.”
A documentary aired by an Israeli TV station last week revealed a Tel Aviv-based cult
led by a man who is married to 32 women and is the father of 89 children.
One of Goel Ratzon’s wives was hospitalized on Friday after claiming to have tried to commit suicide.