The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday convicted Rabbi Moti Elon, a highly regarded figure in the Religious Zionist community, on two counts of forcible sexual assault against a minor.
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Elon, the former head of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem, was charged last year with sexually assaulting two of his students in 2003 and 2005. The investigation against him began more than three years ago.
The first incident involved a student named B., who was 17-years-old at the time of the alleged assault. According to the indictment, The indictment states that Elon began to periodically touch B. inappropriately starting in December 2002,. Elon explained the contact as consoling his student, who had recently experienced a tragedy.
B. refused to testify during the trial, however, and the parts of the indictment involving the incident were stricken from the record.
The second incident, which took place two years later, involved another young man, A., who was also 17-years-old at the time. According to the indictment, A. was advised by his friends to seek guidance from Rabbi Elon during a personal crisis. Elon apparently sat next to A. in a way that made him feel uncomfortable, then proceeded to stroke his face, and other parts of his body, above his clothing.
A. said that tried to object, but Elon continued stroking him, saying he was "tense." At one point, Elon gave A. a prolonged kiss on the face.
About two months later, a friend suggested that A. accompany him to a lecture at Yeshivat Hakotel. A. agreed, not knowing that Elon headed the yeshiva. After the lecture, Elon came over to A., hugged him and asked him to accompany him to the study hall, which A. did.
Upon arriving, the indictment says, Elon shut the door and pressed himself against A. The rabbi then sat A. down on his lap, held him around the waist and began rubbing his genitals against the boy. After doing this for some time, he let A. go and sent him on his way.
The indictment marked the culmination of an investigation that began in February 2010, in response to revelations by a religious forum called Takana, which was set up to deal with allegations of sexual harassment in the religious Zionist community.
The organization went public with details of the complaints it had received against Elon because the rabbi, it said, had violated the restrictions that Takana imposed on his activities after looking into these complaints.