Zionist Rabbi Moti Elon Charged With Sexually Assaulting Two Teens

Indictment accuses Elon of assaulting one of his students and another youth, in 2003 and 2005, when Elon headed Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem's Old City.

Rabbi Moti Elon, one of the most prominent rabbis in the religious Zionist community, was indicted on two counts of sexual assault Wednesday.

The indictment, filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, accuses him of assaulting one of his students and another youth. The alleged incidents took place in 2003 and 2005, when Elon headed Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem's Old City.

Moti Elon - Archive / Tomer Appelbaum - 03112011
Archive / Tomer Appelbaum

The first count relates to B., who began studying at Hakotel in December 2002 and greatly admired Elon. A month later, someone close to B. died, and Elon invited him for a private talk after evening prayers.

On the pretext of consoling the 17-year-old student, the indictment says, Elon hugged and caressed him. He then sat B. down on the sofa, removed his glasses and began kissing his neck and back.

Eventually, B. extricated himself from Elon's embrace and left the room. But shortly thereafter, another student told him that Elon was looking for him and wanted him to spend the night at his house.

After some hesitation, B. acceded to this request. But that night, Elon repeated the same actions. This went on for about 15 minutes, after which Elon left B. alone to sleep.

A few weeks later, B. came to consult Elon privately and was once again hugged, kissed and caressed, the indictment says. The second charge relates to A., another 17-year-old. A. was not a student of Elon's, but came to consult him about a personal problem in 2005 on the advice of a friend.

The meeting took place in the Jerusalem offices of an organization called Mibereshit, which Elon headed at the time. According to the indictment, Elon sat very close to A. in a manner that caused him discomfort, and caressed his face and other parts of his body.

A. 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 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 penis against the boy. After doing this for some time, he put A. down and sent him on his way.

At a pre-indictment hearing with the prosecution, Elon flatly denied having committed any sexual offenses. His lawyer argued that the teens had misinterpreted innocent gestures of affection from a teacher to a student as sexual acts. However, the prosecution was unconvinced by this claim.

The indictment marks the culmination of an investigation that began in February 2010, in response to revelations by a religious forum called Takana that 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.

In the material it posted on its website, Takana said that one of the initial complaints involved "sexual exploitation by a spiritual authority. These were extremely grave acts that cannot be interpreted in any other fashion."

About a year later, the website said, it received an even more serious complaint, according to which Elon conducted "a relationship of a clearly sexual nature for some time."

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: הרב מוטי אלון הואשם בביצוע מעשים מגונים בכוח