Popular Afula Rabbi Indicted on Sexual Assault Charges

The indictment accuses Rabbi Ya'akov Deutsch, 61 of sodomizing and abusing a 15 year-old-girl, and raping a 13-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy, and a 14-year-old boy.

Prosecutors indicted a prominent Afula rabbi on Sunday on four counts of sexual assault and abuse of authority, including two counts involving teenage girls and two counts involving teenage boys.

The indictment accuses Rabbi Ya'akov Deutsch, 61, an esteemed Kabbalist, of sodomizing and abusing a 15 year-old-girl, and raping a 13-year-old girl, a 13-year-old boy, and a 14-year-old boy.

Charges were filed in Nazareth District Court.

According to the indictment, the first alleged victim, then 15 years old, arrived at the rabbi's home and asked him for a blessing to improve her health. The girl's family is reportedly among the rabbi's followers and chose to live near Deutsch's home.

On three occasions, the rabbi allegedly engaged in sexual relations with the girl, claiming that healing energy would be transferred from his body to hers. After her health improved, the girl asked the rabbi how she might reward him for his help. The rabbi allegedly requested sexual favors, and the victim reportedly consented, believing that sexual relations with the venerated rabbi constituted an honor.

The indictment charges that the rabbi had sex with the girl during several subsequent meetings. While the girl is said to have consented, the indictment claims the rabbi exploited his status during the alleged incidents and sexually abused the girl.

In some instances, according to the indictment, the victim reportedly asked the rabbi whether the sexual acts were permissible. Deutsch allegedly responded that he acted on "orders from the heavens."

On other occasions, Deutsch allegedly told the girl that she had been his wife in previous incarnations, and that therefore sex between them was permitted.

After the rabbi was detained, his followers reportedly claimed that the girl in question was a frequent guest in his home, and that the rabbi always left the door open to rooms that she visited. They reportedly said there is a recording in which the girl says the rabbi never touched her.

The indictment details other acts of alleged rape and abuse against another girl and two boys. These alleged crimes were reportedly disclosed after one of the males phoned his father from the rabbi's house, and in a distressed voice asked his father to pick him up immediately and bring him home.

The alleged affair was exposed a year ago, when Deutsch was arrested by Afula police. He was detained after asking to leave Israel in order to take part in religious celebrations in Turkey.