By Melanie Lidman (Jerusalem Post)
January 8, 2012
Police do not believe the suspects operated in an organized ring but rather that they knew of one another and sometimes carried out the abuse in pairs. More arrests are expected.Parents in the neighborhood claim there are more than 20 suspects and over 100 victims, some as young as two years old.
One man who was being investigated by police was found dead in his Nahlaot apartment two weeks ago. Police classified his death as a suicide.
Police first received a complaint of abuse in 2010 against a single suspect, who was arrested but later released to house arrest. It wasn't until July 2011 that more parents began to come forward with complaints, and detectives realized that they were dealing with multiple pedophiles and dozens of victims.
A special investigation unit was created to look into the children's claims of abuse. Investigating pedophilia is extremely difficult because children are so impressionable that even hearing about other incidents from their parents can compromise the investigation, a police source explained.
The abuse started as early as 2006 or 2007, but police believe that the haredi community tried to take care of the problem internally for a number of years. They finally turned to the police in July 2011 because they could no longer deal with the problem themselves, a police source said.
Since the summer, there has been significant cooperation between the haredi community and the police, despite the fact that the haredi community in Nahlaot is usually reluctant to cooperate with secular authorities.
Six men were arrested over the course of the summer, but police were only able to gather enough evidence to indict three of them, Binyamin Satz, Bentzion Primishelanu and Zalman Cohen. The three men will remain incarcerated until the end of the legal proceedings against them.
On Sunday morning around 3, police arrested three additional suspects, aged 19, 50 and 60, all religious men from Nahlaot. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court extended their remand for five days.
Last Tuesday, Knesset members from the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed outrage that many of the suspects were still at large and coming into daily contact with their supposed victims. A mother of eight, four of whom were allegedly abused, gave heartbreaking testimony and said her son still met his abuser on the way to the school bus despite sitting with investigators for more than 12 hours.
A police source said police had increased undercover patrols, installed additional security cameras and met with parents to instruct them how not to compromise the investigation.
"I'm just upset, I want to know what's happening," Nahlaot resident R.S. said on Sunday. "I don't know if the legal system will convict the guilty, and I feel all the perpetrators haven't been identified."
R.S. added that he knew one of the suspects personally through a community garden in the neighborhood.