Suspected Child Molester in South Can Now Go Out During Day, Evening

Prosecutors have submitted to the Be'er Sheva District Court an amendment to the indictment against one of the men suspected of sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community of Moshav Komemiyut. The Southern District Prosecutor's Office has thus agreed to ease the conditions of the suspect's house arrest, allowing him outside for most of the day and evening.

According to the amendment, the man - whose name is banned from publication because most of the deeds attributed to him were committed when he was a minor - performed indecent acts from 2001 to 2004, not earlier, as stated in the original indictment.

According to the prosecutor's office, the indictment was amended under the provision in Israeli law concerning the obsolescence of sexual offenses committed by minors.

The suspect was arrested on May 25 following testimony that he had sexually exploited children at the moshav where he lives. The attestations cropped up during a long police investigation into another resident of the moshav, Shimshon Walzer.

This investigation, which went on for several months in the Lakhish Police District, found that Walzer had sexually abused children over 20 years, without anyone from the moshav complaining about him to the police or welfare authorities, even though residents say many people knew what he was doing.

The affairs are considered shocking because they show that some of Walzer's victims have become abusers themselves.

Komemiyut is a small ultra-Orthodox moshav in the Negev, home to a closed community whose members come from three large Hasidic groups: Gur, Vizhnitz and Belz. The investigators took evidence from residents of the moshav including the community's rabbi and other officeholders.

In an effort to break the conspiracy of silence there, the investigators went to yeshivas at the moshav and took evidence from young people. They also took evidence from young people who have left the community. In total, about 40 cases of abuse of children and adolescents have been uncovered, but only about half the victims have agreed to complain, say the police.

Some of the youths questioned said another suspect had abused them; it is against him that an indictment was filed in mid-July. Today, after the revision of the indictment, he is still under house arrest, but he is only required to stay at home between 11 P.M. and 8 A.M.

No indictment has been filed against the main suspect in the affair, Walzer, because he flew to the United States in April. When he realized that a police investigation against him was underway, he decided not to return to Israel.

The prosecution did not request an extradition order because of the complexity of the procedure and the statute of limitations on some of the counts against Walzer.