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.
“The numerous statements by his wives and children of the defendant reveal his deviant, destructive and sick personality,” wrote Judge Hayuta Kochan in her decision yesterday. “In his warped and twisted manner, and through his total control over everything these women did, he destroyed their lives, distorted their thinking, and crushed their personalities to the point where they completely lost their will and ability to defend themselves.”
“The base, despicable nature of the defendant knows no bounds – [Ratzon] forced sexual relations onto his daughters, young girls who are in the critical, developmental phase of their lives,” Kochan wrote. “He exploited their innocence, and ultimately makes the cynical claim that they desired these relations.”
In her ruling, the judge noted that one of the women had complained to the police in 2000, yet the authorities did not follow up with an investigation.
“As far as I’m concerned, if the police had done what they should have, the phenomenon known as ‘Goel’ would not have spread and taken on these monstrous dimensions,” Kochan wrote. “That would have spared a number of victims.”
Ratzon’s attorney, Shlomzion Gabai, said she was surprised at the judge’s decision, given that the defense was not allowed to submit an argument questioning the rationale.
At the end of the court’s proceedings, Gabai said she would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Kochan added that the women cult-members were “weak, vulnerable, and mainly young and innocent, so it was an easy task for him to instill in them the faith that the world he created around him was all good, while the world outside was entirely evil and corrupt.”
The judge also wrote that Ratzon had brainwashed the women into believing that engaging in sexual relations with him would secure their entry into heaven.
She said Ratzon had created a cult in which all members worshipped him blindly, seating him on a royal throne and succumbing to his every will.
“He introduced a reign of terror and fear, and those who did not do as he commanded were painfully and humiliatingly punished in a manner that made use of manipulation and severe chastisement,” Kachon wrote.