Jewish Cult leader sentenced to 30 years for sex crimes



Goel Ratzon was convicted of rape, sodomy, relations with a minor, indecent assault and fraud
Times of Israel

A Tel Aviv District court sentenced notorious cult leader Goel Ratzon to 30 years in prison Tuesday for a multitude of sex crimes.

Ratzon, who presented himself as a spiritual guru, was convicted in September of multiple sexual offenses, including rape, sodomy, sex with a minor, indecent assault and fraud. He was acquitted of holding one of his victims in sexual slavery against her will.

“If we would have issued a sentence for each count separately, the sentence would have been in the triple digits,” the judges wrote in their verdict, explaining why the sentences largely run concurrently.

Ratzon, 64, was also ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of shekels in restitution to his victims.

Earlier in the day, Ratzon’s sentencing had to be delayed after he failed to appear in court because prison officials had left him behind in his cell.

The Prisons Service blamed the oversight on a computer glitch.

Ratzon was discovered — as the result of a TV report and an ensuing police investigation — to be presiding over a harem in Tel Aviv of some 21 women, some of whom had entered into a relationship with him while still teenagers. He was arrested in 2010.

He is believed to have had up to 32 “wives” starting in 1991. He has also fathered at least 49 children, although some media sources estimate more than 60 children were involved in his cult.

Ratzon himself has maintained that he had done nothing wrong, and famously said after his arrest that “petting young girls wasn’t rape.”

Following Ratzon’s arrest, the fate of his former “wives” and offspring became an issue in itself, as the state found that the women and children were unable to support themselves and had been traumatized by their experiences. A 2011 Haaretz report noted that the group collectively had received millions of shekels in aid, but were still in “dire straits.”