Polygamist Cult Leader to Be Held Until Case Ends

Alleged polygamist cult leader Goel Ratzon will remain in custody until the end of all court proceedings against him, the Tel Aviv District Court decided yesterday.

Ratzon is accused of a litany of sex and assault crimes against his 17 female partners and their children, whom he allegedly subjugated to slave-like conditions.

"The numerous statements by his wives and children of the defendant reveal his deviant, destructive and sick personality," wrote Judge Hayuta Kochan in her decision yesterday. "In his warped and twisted manner, and through his total control over everything these women did, he destroyed their lives, distorted their thinking, and crushed their personalities to the point where they completely lost their will and ability to defend themselves."

"The base, despicable nature of the defendant knows no bounds - [Ratzon] forced sexual relations onto his daughters, young girls who are in the critical, developmental phase of their lives," Kochan wrote. "He exploited their innocence, and ultimately makes the cynical claim that they desired these relations."

In her ruling, the judge noted that one of the women had complained to the police in 2000, yet the authorities did not follow up with an investigation.

"As far as I'm concerned, if the police had done what they should have, the phenomenon known as 'Goel' would not have spread and taken on these monstrous dimensions," Kochan wrote. "That would have spared a number of victims."

Ratzon's attorney, Shlomzion Gabai, said she was surprised at the judge's decision, given that the defense was not allowed to submit an argument questioning the rationale.

Kochan rejected Gabai's argument, referring her claims to the Supreme Court.

"[Ratzon] poses a great danger in every possible way," the judge wrote. "Thus I believe there is no other alternative."

At the end of the court's proceedings, Gabai said she would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Police began investigating Ratzon in June 2009 after one of the women complained of abuse.

His female companions are said to have regarded him as their savior (Goel in Hebrew), and believed he had supernatural powers. Many of the women have several tattoos of his name and image.

Ratzon, 60, allegedly subjected his family of 17 women and 38 children to strict disciplinary measures, but has claimed they lived with him of their own accord.