A fugitive Israeli who is considered to be the ringleader of, and “spiritual mentor” responsible for, one of the worst child abuse cases in Israeli history has fled to Brazil, police said Thursday, after the lifting of a court-imposed gag order.
The mother of eight indicted for child abuse, left, and “rabbi” Elior Chen, suspected of being her mentor.
Rabbi Elior Chen, 29, and his followers are suspected of severely abusing two children, ages three and four, who were beaten with hammers, knives and other implements for months, until the younger child lost consciousness in March.
They are also suspected of the severely abusing other children in the family.
The three-year-old suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother and her companions, according to an indictment filed in a Jerusalem court.
He is expected to remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
Chen originally flew from Israel to Canada to avoid arrest after police uncovered the abuse, then immediately continued to Brazil.
Brazilian police are still searching for Chen, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.
In an attempt to obtain information on the rabbi’s whereabouts, Chen’s wife and children were sent from Brazil to Belgium on Thursday night, the police said.
Last month, Jerusalem police issued an international arrest warrant for the suspected ringleader in the child abuse case.
The other suspects allegedly received instruction from Chen on how to “fix” the children’s behavior, and “cleanse” them of their satanic possession, says the indictment.
The chilling charge sheet in the gruesome child abuse case recounts that the mother allegedly forced her children to eat feces, locked them in a suitcase for three days – letting them out only for brief periods – repeatedly beat, whipped, and shook them, burnt their hands and gave them freezing showers.
The abusive mother and “educators” are also suspected of pouring salt on the burn wounds of the child, stuffing his mouth with a skullcap and sealing his mouth with masking tape and giving the children alcoholic drinks until they vomited.
Chen provided explicit written instructions on how to abuse the children.
Chen’s father Ya’acov has publicly urged his son to return to Israel and face trial, insisting that he is innocent.