Three Indicted for Beating Children as Part of Cult

Three members of the so-called "Ithaca cult" from Netanya were indicted yesterday in Petah Tikva District Court, on charges of abusing children at the direction of the cult's leader, Shay Abramov, who recently committed suicide in custody.

In addition to Abramov's wife, the indictment was filed against a married man and woman from Netanya over abuse of the woman's children, who are 10 and 14 years old. The children were allegedly punched and hit with a paddle used to clean carpets and with a rolled-up newspaper covered with glue. The accused allegedly hurt the children so badly they bled, and encouraged the children to hit each other.

In a request to extend the defendants' detention or at least confine them to house arrest, the prosecution alleged that the abuse went on regularly for half a year in an effort "to extract evil from them" and so "they wouldn't become transgressors."

The indictment alleges that the defendants required the children to do all of the household chores and to serve food and drink whenever it was needed.

The minors were also allegedly subject to "discussions" that sometimes lasted for days, during which the children were purportedly required to stand and were deprived of anything to eat or drink.

It is alleged that the defendants characterized the violence as "treatment" to save the children's lives and prevent them from going to hell. The defendants allegedly deprived the children of medical treatment and contact with their extended family.

Lawyers for the couple said the indictments were ill-founded. The attorney for the woman said even if she committed the acts of violence, she should still be viewed as a victim. The attorney for her husband said it will be difficult for the prosecution to prove its case as the central allegations of violence were purportedly carried out by the deceased Abramov.