Rabbi Berland Purportedly Admits to Rape in Audio Recording

'I raped her,' rabbi purportedly heard saying in recording aired by Channel 2. 'She never did it of her own free will. She understands it as a divine mission to be a rabbi's wife.'

Yair Ettinger
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Rabbi Eliezer Berland, who is suspected of sexual abuse in Israel, arrives at court in Haarlem, the Netherlands, November 17, 2014.
Rabbi Eliezer BerlandCredit: Koning Sander, AFP
Yair Ettinger

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, a prominent religious figure suspected in a row of sex crimes purportedly admitted to raping one of the female complainants in his case in an old audio recording. 

"I raped her," the leader of the Shuvu Banim community is purportedly heard saying in the recording, aired by the Israeli Channel 2 on Tuesday. 

According to the report, the recording has been handed over the the police's international crime unit, which is in charge of investigating the suspicions against the 79-year-old rabbi. 

In the recording, which is several years old, the rabbi appears to be discussing whether a certain woman is forbidden to her husband under Jewish law, having had intercourse with another man. "In the first time I raped her, and she's allowed to her husband, without a doubt she didn't understand what was going on. She doesn't need any gett. And afterward she asked me: What? What's going on? I told her you're no longer a man's wife, you're not a man's wife. She never did it of her own free will. She understands it as a divine mission to be a rabbi's wife," he is purportedly heard saying. 

Berland's lawyer, Attorney Rahel Toren, said that this was "another fallacy" made by the rabbi's enemies. 

Earlier on Tuesday the court ruled to keep Berland under arrest for another 24 hours, granting a police appeal of a lower court's decision to release the rabbi to house arrest. 

Berland has been extradited to Israel last week from South Africa, and has been under arrest since. He is suspected in five cases of sexual harassment and in two cases of indecent acts against female followers. He is also suspected of sending his followers to assault a man. 

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