Jewish cult leader convicted for rape, torture in Jerusalem

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

The 58-year-old defendant, who was convicted on Tuesday, was not identified.

From 2000 to 2009, he lived in a house in Jerusalem with his wives, supporting himself by sending them out to beg, Haaretz reported. The women have given birth to 17 of his children since 1980.

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 used as well on the children.

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

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