Jewish cult leader convicted for rape, torture in Jerusalem

(JTA) – A Jerusalem resident running a religious cult was convicted Tuesday of rape, sodomy and physical abuse of his six wives.

The 58-year-old defendant was not identified. From 2000 to 2009, he lived in a house in Jerusalem with six wives, supporting himself by sending his wives out to beg, Haaretz reported. The women bore him 17 children since 1980.

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The defendant convinced his wives that he had special spiritual powers vital to the salvation of Israel, the report said. But day-to-day life in the household was marked by brutal punishments, including rape, sodomy, electric shocks, whippings, starvation and naked imprisonment in a storage shed. Judges in the case noted that some of these punishments were also used on the children.

Restraints, electric tasers, and wooden rods were found during the initial police raid of the house in 2011.