Monday, February 15, 2010

Case of Goel Ratzon

Case of Goel Ratzon
(Hatikvah) Tel Aviv, Israel

Arrested and charged with incest, sexual assault, slavery  and domestic violenceRatzon is also accused of cult like practices and mind control.

Table of Contents:

  1. 'Israel's Fritzl' Arrested on Charges of Incest, Sex Abuse  (01/15/2010)
  2. 'Israeli Fritzl' with harem of up to 30 wives and 60 children arrested on suspicion of incest and sexual abuse (01/15/2010)
  3. In Israel, the Messiah with more than 30 Wives' (01/30/2010)
  4. Goel Ratzon accused of raping minors (02/14/2010)
  5. Israeli ‘harem’ leader Goel Ratzon charged with rape and incest (02/15/2010)

'Israel's Fritzl' Arrested on Charges of Incest, Sex Abuse
London Times -  January 15, 2010

Residents of Tel Aviv’s quiet Hatikva neighborhood were shocked yesterday to discover a self-styled Jewish sage living in their midst with a harem of 30 women kept as "slaves" in squalid apartments.

Goel Ratzon, 60, is accused of fathering 37 children since 1993 with his "wives" and daughters. Ratzon, who was dubbed by the local media as "Israel’s Josef Fritzl," is under arrest on suspicion of incest and sexual abuse.

"The evidence shows the suspect controlled his women with a firm hand, including their possessions and their money," police said. Ratzon even wrote a list of commandments to ensure that the women were kept in "conditions similar to slavery," police said.

In addition to turning over all their wages, the women were forbidden from making telephone calls or talking to men other than Ratzon. If they broke the rules they would pay a fine or receive physical punishment.

Mickey Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said that Ratzon convinced his victims that he had godlike status. "The women didn’t really understand what their situation was, they didn’t understand what freedom was," Rosenfeld said.

In one case, police raided a three-bedroom apartment where 10 women and 17 children were found living in "horrible conditions."

The women wore conservative orthodox dresses covering their entire bodies and bore tattoos of their captor’s face — and name. He was married to 17 women but it was unclear how many others he had relations with, police said. All his offspring had names with a variation on his — Goel, which means redeemer in Hebrew.


'Israeli Fritzl' with harem of up to 30 wives and 60 children arrested on suspicion of incest and sexual abuse
By Sara Nelson
(UK) Mail online - Jan 15, 2010 

Israeli police have arrested a 60-year-old self-styled Jewish sage with a reported harem of up to 30 wives and 60 children on suspicion of incest and sexual abuse.

Goel Ratzon, who has been dubbed by the local media as ‘Israel’s Josef Fritzl’ is alleged to have kept the women and children as ‘slaves’ in squalid apartments around Tel Aviv.

Ratzon was remanded in custody on Tuesday, a police spokesman said after a gagging order was lifted on Thursday. 

An undercover investigation was started in June last year after one woman came forward to complain of abuse. 

'The evidence shows the suspect controlled his women with a firm hand, including their possessions and their money,' said a police statement, which added that Ratzon had written a 'rule book' for women he kept in 'conditions of slavery'.

'He would dictate what they could and could not do, limit their movements and impose sanctions and various punishments, including the use of violence if they refused to obey.'

Among the more serious allegations, police said Ratzon was suspected of fathering children with some of his own daughters. Police said 17 women and about 40 children were involved.

Several women who identified themselves as Ratzon's wives appeared in an Israeli television documentary aired last year. They were filmed feeding him and combing his hair.

'He is the messiah everyone is talking about,' one said. 'He is already here and he hasn't been revealed yet. The day he decides to reveal himself, the land will shake.'

The women wore the heavy dress of Orthodox Jews and bore tattoos of the bearded, bespectacled Ratzon's face.

He was also interviewed, introducing several of his children, all of whom had names with variations on Goel -  Hebrew for 'redeemer'.

'I'm perfect,' Ratzon said in the documentary. 'I have all the qualities a woman wants.'

Ratzon's lawyer, Shlomtzion Gabai, said about 30 women and 60 children were linked to her client: 'As far as he is concerned, no sexual crimes have been committed,' she told Israel Radio. 'The women consented willingly to relations.'  

The children have been taken into care and some of the women have been let free.

Ratzon is on remand in a Tel Aviv jail, awaiting a court appearance.


In Israel, the Messiah with more than 30 Wives'
By Matthew Kalman
(UK) Times - Jan. 18, 2010 

Goel Ratzon's Facebook profile shows the bespectacled Israeli with shoulder-length white hair and neatly trimmed beard and says he is currently dating and has 36 friends. His real status is somewhat more complicated. When Israeli police raided the self-styled healer's four homes in Tel Aviv last week they found two legal ex-wives, plus another 30 women as well as 89 children — all reputedly his. Ratzon was arrested on suspicion of enslavement, rape and sexual abuse and remanded in custody by a local magistrate. 

Police described the apartment block in the city's downscale Hatikvah neighborhood as a slum harem. "The living conditions of the women were tragic," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told TIME. "When I entered one of the houses, I was shocked by what I saw. The filth was horrible, and there was nowhere to walk without stumbling on something. It was a three-bedroom apartment, where 10 women and 17 children were living." 

Ratzon's unusual domestic arrangements first came to light in a documentary broadcast on Israel's Channel 10 in January 2009. It showed Ratzon's "wives" cooking, cleaning and shopping together, eagerly anticipating the arrival of "Daddy" and competing over whom he would choose to spend the night with. On the show, Ratzon explained the secret of his magnetic attraction was that he was "perfect." "I have everything a woman wants, all the qualities a woman wants. I give women the attention they want. It's made of many things, but fortunately, I have everything," he said. Because there was technically no multiple marriage (no ceremonies or documents were involved), authorities had no basis for charging Ratzon with polygamy.

The women, too, appeared to be content, if not happy. They wore modest clothing that neighbors likened to those of religious Muslims, and they had Ratzon's image tattooed on their bodies. The children's names all included a version of Ratzon's own. One wife had Ratzon's portrait tattooed on her upper left arm, his head surrounded by snakes with the legend "Goel Ratzon, my love forever." A similar tattoo on her upper right arm portrayed him with a cobra crowning his head and the legend "My Goel, my love." Her neck was inscribed twice: "To Goel, with love."

"No one has love like we have here. I went through a lot before I arrived here and he is the ultimate for me," she explained on television. One of the other women defended Ratzon's little kingdom, saying, "People think we are in a place where we are imprisoned and forced to become some kind of poor Cinderella. They don't understand that there is humanity, respect. He has something special and good." Said one of her companions: "He's the Messiah that everyone talks about. The day he decides to reveal himself, this country will see it." 

Ratzon had built a reputation for spiritual redemption (which is what goel means in Hebrew) by way of a center in Tel Aviv that combined teachings on the Kabbalah with healing. In 2000, he told a reporter that he had had a vision of a "soul" appearing to him and telling him that the secrets of the Torah would be revealed to him, allowing him to no longer work hard in his life. He became known as a healer for young women, some of whom fell in love with him. One of his "wives" said she was smitten after he cured her of a mysterious disease that had left her bald at age 10. Some of the women in the household severed all contact with their own families, insisting no one forced them to stay. On the TV documentary, some accompanied Ratzon to a Tel Aviv mall to trawl for more "wives."

Still, Ratzon, 59, ruled his clan like a kingdom — or a police state. According to a book of domestic bylaws that he laid out for his huge household, the women faced fines from $50 to $500 for such infractions as sitting idle when there was housework to be done or talking to repairmen. To an extent, the situation was state-subsidized: some women claimed state benefits as stay-at-home, single parents. Others, however, worked outside, earning money for the family kitty. But not everyone was happy. Days before his arrest, Ratzon reportedly took one of his "wives" to the hospital because she was suffering from an overdose of antidepressants.

Because there was no evidence of a crime, just a weird lifestyle, no charges have been brought against Ratzon. "The welfare department [had] been in touch with some of the women and children for the past couple of years," Sharon Melamed, a social worker in the Tel Aviv Municipality Welfare Department tells TIME. "There was never a reason to suspect any criminal behavior. The children were clean and well dressed. They showed up to school regularly. There were no signs in their behavior that could indicate neglect or anything like sexual exploitation."

But there was much suspicion that many of the women in the alleged harem, still in their 20s, had been troubled teenagers who originally went to Ratzon for therapy. In June of 2009, a 24-year-old woman, the daughter of one of Ratzon's "wives," filed a complaint against him with the Tel Aviv police. The mother, who was arrested along with Ratzon, is suspected of introducing her biological daughter, then 14, to the healer for purposes of sex; she is now facing charges of encouraging and failing to report underage sex. Using Clause 375a of a new Israeli law against human-trafficking that makes it a crime to hold a person "in conditions of slavery," police then tapped Ratzon's phones and began surveillance. Parallel to the police investigation, parents of some of the young women hired private detectives to launch an undercover inquiry. 

If formally charged, Ratzon faces a maximum 16-year prison term for each of the slavery and rape charges. Through his lawyer, Ratzon denied the allegations. After so many years of inaction, the police seem confident they can prove his guilt. "We have managed to gather a great deal of evidence relating to the offenses of holding people under conditions of enslavement and rape," deputy commander Shlomi Michael, head of the Tel Aviv police's Central Unit, told reporters.

— With reporting by Yonit Farago / Tel Aviv


In Israel, the Messiah with more than 30 Wives'
By Vered Luvitch 
YNET - February 14, 2020 

Guru who lived with 32 women, dozens of children charged with sex offenses, enslavement, deception. Indictment says he fully controlled his wives' lives, created 'status of an omnipotent with healing, destruction and cursing capabilities'  

Polygamist Goel Ratzon was charged Sunday with dozens of sex offenses, including rape, sodomy, and indecent assault. His victims were said to include minors. He was also accused of fraud and treating his wives like slaves.

Ratzon, who had lived with 32 women and dozens of children, was arrested last month in a wide-scale police operation. His son, Yigal Ratzon, arrived at the court Sunday and continued to insist that his father was innocent. 

The indictment is divided into nine chapters, and includes dozens of clauses describing a large number of incidents.  

The State asked the court to place a gag order on the investigation, saying that it includes "intimate, sensitive and shameful details, which have the power of humiliating any person." One of the reasons for the request, the State Prosecutor's Office explained, was the "fragile mental state of the women", who are defined as "victims of a difficult trauma of many years of slavery."

According to the indictment, Ratzon created "a status of an omnipotent with healing, destruction and cursing capabilities", through which he possesses full control of his wives' lives, desires, thoughts and performance. 

 Last week, the Tel Aviv District Police said that most of Ratzon's wives had incriminated him when they were questioned and would testify against him in the trial. The police believe they have a well-established case against the man, claiming that most of his wives have "become sober". 

According to the State Prosecutor's Office, Ratzon had many diverse ways to influence his wives, causing them to depend on him completely. He allegedly instilled a distorted reality, leading them to believe that their entire being, essence and physical and mental life derive their existence from him.

The indictment describes the "family" setting Ratzon built around him: "The defendant captured the women in a human group structure with the nature of a pseudo-family revolving around the ritual of his image, turning the birth of his children into a supreme goal the wives must aspire to, all with the aim of glorifying him while serving him and providing all his needs."

The State went on to say that Ratzon abused his wives by scorning them, while ridiculing their personality and independence and trampling over their self-image and self-value.

He kept them away from any external social connection, including their families, damaging their judgment and free will and enslaving them to provide his economic and sexual needs, the indictment said.

'Don't worry, you'll get used to it'

Many of the indictment clauses refer to the sex offenses allegedly committed by Ratzon. One describes a 19-year-old girl who was raped by Ratzon from the age of 15 to 17 on a nearly daily basis. He is also accused of indecent assault of another girl, by caressing her sexual organs and kissing her while pushing his tongue into her mouth.

He is also accused of raping and sexually harassing a girl whose mother died when she was a baby. According to the indictment, he distanced the girl from her family and promised to marry her. He convinced her that he had supernatural powers and ignored her request to stop kissing and caressing her.

Several days later, he took a shower with the girl and raped her. When she complained that it hurt, he responded, "Don't worry, you'll get used to it." In another incident, he performed oral sex on the girl and raped her again.

"The defendant knew that the young girl was subject to his magical influence, which he nurtured and implanted in a way preventing her from granting her free agreement," the indictment stated. "Shortly after these acts were committed, the young woman's father managed to locate her and remove her forcibly."

Police: Most women will testify

After nearly a month in detainment, Goel Ratzon spoke out for the first time during a hearing in Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court, claiming he was innocent.

"They can say things about me, (but) they're not true. They are putting the squeeze on me during investigation," he said.

Regarding the book of rules he allegedly wrote for the women and their children living with him, Ratzon said, "There was no book. That is an invention of the media."

Ratzon also addressed concerns that his wives would try to hurt themselves when he was arrested: "I didn't expect anything. Nothing was supposed to happen when they arrested me."  

He also denied committing sexual offenses. "This is what the police claims, not me," he said.

But the testimonies collected by the police paint a different picture. The investigators discovered that Ratzon, thanks to his special "charm", managed to get hold of intelligent women and turn them into slaves with no personal desire. The women told the investigators they would drive him to different places, buy him things, take loans for him and pay for his trips abroad – all in order to please him.


Israeli ‘harem’ leader Goel Ratzon charged with rape and incest
UK Times - February 15, 2010

An man dubbed Israel’s Josef Fritzl was indicted yesterday on charges including enslavement, rape and incest over a cult-like harem in which he fathered dozens of children with 32 women.

The indictment against Goel Ratzon, 60, says that he positioned himself as a “godlike” figure to the women, whom he enticed into a worship of him that included following a “rulebook” that dictated their lives.

He sired at least 49 children with his “wives”, who tattooed themselves with his face and name, and is also accused of raping underage girls.

Ratzon created an “image of an omnipotent one who was blessed with supernatural powers and the ability to heal, destroy and cast curses”, police said. “Through this total control the defendant led the women to completely scrap their character and devote their existence to satisfy his needs, including his financial and sexual needs.”

In a documentary produced by Israeli television last year, Mr Ratzon’s wives were filmed feeding him and stroking his grey beard and wispy hair.

Police said that his wives have now “sobered” and are coming forward with evidence against him. Almost all of the women incriminated him when questioned, they said, and will testify during the trial.

Mr Ratzon maintained his innocence when speaking outside his hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

“They can say things about me that are not true. They are pressuring me during investigation,” he said. He added that the “book of rules” published by the media and catalogued by police was “an invention”.

His wives and other women he is accused of molesting have depicted Mr Ratzon as an expert manipulator. In each case he is said to have lured women away from their social networks, including friends and family. He ridiculed and insulted them, yet.

Mr Ratzon convinced them that their entire existence — including mental and physical wellbeing — derived from himself. The “supreme goal” of the wives was to bear him children “glorifying him while serving him,” police said.

Mr Ratzon is accused of raping underage girls while convincing them that he would one day marry them. One woman said that she was raped by Mr Ratzon on a “near daily” basis between the ages of 15 to 17.

In another case he convinced an underage girl that he had supernatural powers and distanced her from her family. He then took a shower with the girl and raped her. When she complained of pain, he told her, “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”

Mr Ratzon “knew that the young girl was subject to his charismatic influence. He nurtured and cultivated her in such a way that it prohibited her from granting her free agreement,” police said. They added that the girl’s father managed to locate her and forcibly remove her from Mr Ratzon.

Women living with Mr Ratzon were asked to turn over all their wages and were forbidden from making telephone calls or talking to other men. If they broke the rules they would pay a fine or be physically punished.

The women wore conservative orthodox dresses covering their entire bodies and bore tattoos of their captor’s face and name. All his offspring had names with a variation on his, Goel, which means “redeemer” in Hebrew.

Psychologists and welfare officials who have spoken to Mr Ratzon’s wives have said that they are concerned for their mental well being. Becoming aware of the “brainwashing” they were under has been traumatic, police said.

But some of the women have begun meeting with their families again, while many of the women who had tattooed Mr Ratzon’s name and likeness on their bodies have now asked that they be removed.

However, police said that some of the women have remained loyal to Mr Ratzon and refused to condemn his treatment of them.

Mr Ratzon’s case has met with outrage amonhg the Israeli public, who question why he was not arrested sooner. Police have said that they were aware of Mr Ratzon for years but could not gather enough evidence for his arrest until women came forward and filed complaints with welfare authorities.


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