A criminal indictment was served today against Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon, one of the most prominent rabbis in Israel's Orthodox Zionist movement, for two counts of indecent and sexual assault against two minor boys, one of whom was his student at the time of the alleged assault. Elon, who broke an agreement he made with an Orthodox Zionist ethics committee not to teach boys or work around or with boys, denies the allegations against him saying his actions have been "misunderstood.'
Prominent Zionist rabbi indicted on two counts of sexual assault of minors
Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon, a leader of the religious Zionist movement, indicted for assaulting two 17-year olds, including one of his students; Elon says his actions misunderstood.
By Tomer Zarchin and Oz Rosenberg • Ha’aretz
An indictment was served Wednesday against Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon, one of the most prominent rabbis in the religious Zionist movement, for two counts of indecent and sexual assault against two minors, one of whom was his student.
According to the indictment, served to a Jerusalem court, the incidents took place in 2003 and 2005. Rabbi Elon was head of the Hakotel Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s old city at the time.
In 2003, Rabbi Elon assaulted B., who joined the Yeshiva as a student in December 2002. B. was seventeen years old at the time of the incident, and according to the indictment, he saw Rabbi Elon as someone to look up to. The incident took place following a death in B.’s family.
In 2005, Rabbi Elon assaulted A., also seventeen years old, who was not one of his students. According to the indictment, A. approached the Rabbi for advice after going through an emotional crisis, on the recommendation of a friend.
During hearings at the State Attorney’s office, Rabbi Elon has claimed that he did not break the law, and that his actions were misunderstood. He said his actions stemmed from the love of a teacher for a student, and that they were in no way sexual abuse. The State Attorney’s office did not accept this version of events.
Police recommended that Rabbi Mordechai (Moti) Elon be indicted on charges of sexual crimes in August 2010. Police suspect Elon of forcibly committing indecent acts on two minors.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador closely followed the case while the police were still investigating Elon.
In February 2010, Weinstein instructed the police to examine complaints about Elon that had been made public by Takana, a forum that fights sexual abuse in the Orthodox community.
Suspicions against Elon came to the attention of Takana in 2006. The forum demanded that Elon cease his educational activities, and placed various restrictions on him. With no explanation to his students and followers, Elon, who was popular with students, left his post as head of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem, and moved with his family to Migdal on the Kinneret.
In 2006, Takana informed then attorney general Menachem Mazuz of the complaints against Elon. Mazuz conveyed the information to the police, but decided not to order an investigation against Elon.
Takana said they decided to go public with the allegations at the time because Elon "did not follow the restrictions imposed on him."
The Jerusalem Post's report notes that Elon was first offered a plea bargain. When he turned it down, he was indicted.
Ynet describes the assaults this way:
The indictment alleges that Elon made unwelcome advances at the teenagers, touched them inappropriately and fondled them, all the while claiming it would help their emotional problems.
"These acts were perpetrated for the sole purpose of the defendant's sexual gratification," the prosecution stated.
And Ynet explains Elon's refusal to accept a sweetheart plea deal:
The prosecution offered Rabbi Elon a plea bargain, under which he would have had to enter a guilty plea but would have been spared jail time, but he reportedly refused it. The defense claimed that under no circumstance would the rabbi admit to a crime [he says] he did not commit.…
"I never did anything with my students for sexual stimulation. I won't confess to such a thing."
[Elon] added, "My behavior is apparently being construed in a different way to what actually happened. I never harassed anyone, let alone committed indecent acts. The indictment is baseless to the core and I shall prove my claims in court."
What Elon and Ynet do not address is that Takana, the Zionist Orthodox rabbinic ethics committee, found Elon guilty of sexually assaulting boys in 2006, and Elon only escaped prosecution then because Takana refused to fully cooperate with police and Israel's Attorney General, Menahem Mazuz, chose not to prosecute – a decision Mazuz frequently made when the alleged criminals were prominent people, and wespecially when the crimes were sexual in nature.
Elon made a deal with Takana that included moving out of Jerusalem and stopping teaching.
But Elon quickly broke the agreement and when Takana found out, it began cooperating with police, which eventually, after about two years of investigation by police (and a new Attorney General), led to today's indictment.
[Hat Tips: Chozer Lesheilah. Seymour, OMG.]