Israeli 'polygamous guru' held for rape allegations

By Jessica Elgot, January 15, 2010
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Goel Ratzon, a self-appointed Jewish sage who has been arrested on suspicion of rape and enslavement

Goel Ratzon, a self-appointed Jewish sage who has been arrested on suspicion of rape and enslavement

Israeli self-styled ‘guru’ Goel Ratzon has had his appeal for bail rejected after he was arrested on suspicion of enslaving and raping several of his 17 ‘wives’.

The Tel Aviv District Court on Friday rejected an appeal filed by Mr Ratzon against the extension of his 12-day remand.

He will be held in a Tel Aviv jail until his court date. No formal charges have been made but he is held on suspicion of enslavement, rape and extortion.

Ratzon allegedly kept a ‘harem’ of 17 women, with whom he is believed to have fathered up to 40 children in three squalid apartments in Tel Aviv. His children have been removed from the apartments by social services.

Mr Ratzon, 59 who sports a long beard and thick, white hair, has styled himself as a Jewish sage, with some of the women appearing to have tattoos of his name and face across their bodies.

He recently appeared in an Israeli television documentary where he showed a rulebook he created to rule over his wives and children.

Rules included a ban on questioning Mr Ratzon or speaking in the house in rooms other than the living room.

Mr Ratzon told the television crew: "I'm perfect. I have all the qualities a woman wants."

But an undercover investigation was launched into Mr Ratzon’s lifestyle by police after a woman came forward to report sexual abuse.

His lawyer Shlomtzion Gabai denied any wrongdoing and said that, according to Mr Ratzon, all his relationships were consensual.

"The women consented willingly to relations. He may be different, but he's not a criminal," she said.

Last updated: 12:07pm, January 15 2010