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article imageIsraeli man with many wives charged with abuse, enslavement

By Chris Dade     Feb 14, 2010 in Crime
A 60-year-old Israeli man arrested last month at the home he shared in Tel Aviv with what was then thought to be 17 wives has been charged with multiple counts of crimes such as rape, sodomy, and enslavement.
Following the arrest of Goel Ratzon on January 11 Haaretz reported that he had 17 wives, by whom he had fathered 38 children.
But following a hearing on Sunday in a Tel Aviv court - at which he was charged with sexually assaulting, raping, sodomizing and enslaving the women who lived with him in a compound in Israel's second largest city - CNN is reporting that Ratzon had 23 wives and 59 children.
And some of those it is alleged Ratzon, who reportedly married his first wife in 1972, subjected to sexual indignities are his own daughters.
The offenses of which Ratzon is accused were, says the Jerusalem Post, committed during a period that lasted more than 10 years.
Indeed it is said that the Israeli authorities have known of Ratzon and his many wives and children for a similar period of time.
However CNN states that the court in which Ratzon appeared on Sunday claimed that the women he lived with had given him:complete control of their lives, desires, thoughts, emotions and actions
As a consequence it was only six months ago that one of the women was finally persuaded to file a complaint against the man being described by many in the media as a cult leader.
The London Times, which puts the number of Ratzon's wives at 32 and the number of his children at 49, almost certainly more, calls him the leader of a harem and compares him to Austrian man Josef Fritzl.
According to CNN Ratzon's wives have his name and picture tattooed on their arms and every aspect of their lives was supposedly subject to a rule book their husband had written.
His children had to abide by the same rules as their mothers, or very similar ones, and they had names that included that of their father.
For example one son is Avinu Ha-Goel (our father the savior) and one daughter is Tehilat Ha-Goel (glory of the savior).
The names reflect the belief among Ratzon's family that he was or is the savior of the universe.
When police went to arrest Ratzon in January there were fears that his family would commit suicide, as they had indicated they would, if anyone tried to hurt their leader, when they appeared in a documentary sometime in 2008 or 2009 that was shown on Channel 10.
Social workers went with police to Ratzon's compound in January to ensure such suicides did not take place after officers made their arrest.
At a hearing on Wednesday at Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Ratzon accused the police of threatening him during questioning and maintained that he is innocent of all the charges that were eventually laid four days later. He has insisted too that his wives and children lived with him by choice and not by coercion.
Yigal, who it appears is one of Ratzon's oldest children, has protested his father's innocence.
Haaretz quoted him as saying after his father's arrest in January:There have been times in the past when the court has been wrong and then retracted an indictment and I believe that is what will happen in my father's case.
Everyone has always gone after my father and tried to bring him down because they didn't approve of his lifestyle. Now they've finally found a way to do it
He added:I don't know about a rule book, but if it did exist then i am curious how they manage to run the household in good financial stability, how did the children go to school with a new bag and books every year?
More about Israel, Cult, Tel aviv
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