Lawyer of Alleged Child Abuser Charged With Coercing Witness

The attorney for a self-declared rabbi indicted for abusing several young children was charged himself yesterday with obstructing court proceedings and harassing witnesses slated to testify against him.

Suspect Elior Chen, who was extradited from Brazil last year, allegedly used knives, hammers and other instruments to abuse children as young as 3 and 4 years old in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit in 2008.

According to the charge sheet presented yesterday, Chen's attorney Ariel Atari in 2008 visited a woman who later gave evidence in Chen's trial and he sought to influence her testimony, although it was illegal for him to have any contact with a prosecution witness.

In March 2009, after being charged with abusing her own children, the woman accepted a plea bargain in which she would serve a limited sentence on condition that she would testify against Chen and other suspects.

Atari allegedly told her that he had evidence contrary to her testimony and that having seen her son's medical file, the boy's physical injuries could be interpreted as the result of an accident.

The charge sheet said Atari sought to convince the woman that she had been confused and emotionally fragile when she told others of the alleged child abuse.