Rabbi Mordechai Elon
Rabbi Mordechai Elon Photo by Orel Cohen
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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has ordered the police to open a criminal investigation against Rabbi Mordechai Elon, one of Israel's leading religious Zionist rabbis, on suspicion of sexual offenses against minors who consulted with him.

The decision was kept under wraps, but Haaretz has learned that Elon was questioned under caution by the police about a month ago.

In February, Weinstein had asked the police to conduct a preliminary probe to determine whether a full-fledged investigation was warranted. But this initial probe uncovered no complainants willing to testify against Elon who were both minors at the time the alleged crimes were committed and on which the statute of limitations had not yet expired.

Recently, however, police managed to find at least one additional complainant who still fell under the statute of limitations.

Weinstein's initial decision to order a preliminary probe was made after Takana, a rabbinical forum set up to combat sexual harassment, revealed that it had received complaints from two of Elon's former students alleging "extremely serious" sexual offenses. In one of these cases, Elon allegedly had a "clearly sexual relationship of some duration" with the student.

Takana initially responded by imposing various restrictions on Elon, including requiring him to stop teaching. But when it learned that he was violating these restrictions, it decided to go public with the allegations.

Elon's attorney, Yair Golan, said that given the smear campaign against Elon, he is not surprised that a criminal investigation is now being opened. However, he added, he is certain the probe will ultimately conclude that his client committed no crime.

Yair Ettinger contributed to this report