Police: Pedophile Ring Supect Raped at Least 20 More Minors

Police say they have testimonies of at least 20 minors aged 11 to 16 who may have been victims.

The main suspect in what police are calling a major pedophilia ring, is suspected of raping at least 20 more minors. Haim Atar, 36, an unemployed car mechanic from Holon, first came to the attention of the police when he was named by the 15-year-old victim of rape by a group of men last month. Police also released the name of another suspected pedophile, Yeki Cohen, 51-year-old from Rishon Letzion.

The 15-year-old said he had had sex with Atar on several occasions, after first encountering him on the Atraf dating Web site. Further investigation raised suspicions that Atar had made contact with other teens and preteens through a variety of Web sites, including Goop, Shox and the popular online network for teenagers, Mekusharim. He would use a number of nicknames, among them "Smooth", "Tal" and "23-years-old."

Police say that after making initial contact, Atar would extract personal details from the minors, such as names, pictures and addresses. He would then allegedly stalk their homes before starting up a conversation. He is alleged to have traveled as far as Nahariya, Acre and Eilat to meet with his victims.

"We have the testimonies of at least 20 minors aged 11 to 16 who may have victims of the suspect," a senior police officer said, adding that some were raped when they were under 14. "He would carry out the rapes in parks and open fields near the victims' houses, or in his car."

In some of the cases, Atar allegedly paid the minors in either gifts or cash. Other times, the officer said, he would threaten to reveal the sexual orientation of his victims to their families unless they complied with him. Atar's custody was remanded by another week Wednesday. The second suspect whose name was released, Yeki Cohen, is suspected of raping the 15-year-old complainant when the latter was under 14 years old. A search of Cohen's house revealed over 200 tapes showing him having sex with different men, some of whom are suspected to have been underaged when taped. He is not cooperating with the police, and refuses to divulge the ages of the men.

Seven other suspects appealed to the Supreme Court to uphold the gag order on their names and details. Police support releasing the information, saying it will help them locate other victims, but the order remains in place for the time being.