JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli police will investigate sexual harassment charges against religious Zionist leader Rabbi Mordechai "Motti" Elon.
The decision was reached Thursday following meeting of the police, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, state Prosecutor Moshe Lador and the head of Police Investigations and Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Segalovitz
The police, who had sought the meeting, requested a complete gag order on the case.
Elon has been accused of inappropriate conduct by a religious-Zionist forum that deals with complaints of sexual harassment in the religious school system.
In an announcement Monday, the Takana forum demanded that Elon step away from all rabbinic, teaching and community positions, saying he was a threat to the community.
Following a public outcry within the religious Zionist community, the organization released a statement Wednesday defending its decision to publicize the warning, saying that the incidents it says Elon was involved in “can only be described as acts of the most severe kind."
Takana said the forum received its first complaint of sexual abuse leveled against Elon in 2003, Ynet reported, and a more serious allegation the following year concerning a relationship of a clearly sexual nature for an extended period of time with a young man under his spiritual guidance.
Elon has denied the allegations and called the public charges "a blood libel." He told supporters outside his home Tuesday that “I believe that out of this crisis only a great joy will arise and have therefore decided to remain silent,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Four years ago, Elon moved from Jerusalem to the northern moshav Migdal, citing health reasons.
He could not be reached by JTA for comment.
The rabbi is the brother of former Knesset member Benny Elon and the son of former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon. The former rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem, Elon is the founder of the MiBereshit educational program, which is distributed throughout the world in Hebrew and English.
Israel’s attorney general informed police about the allegations in 2006, but recommended they not investigate, believing that Takana could handle the case through its internal investigation, Haaretz reported. The newspaper cited a letter sent Tuesday from Raz Nizri, senior aide to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, to Takana rabbinical forum director Rabbi Yehudit Shilat.
Har Etzion Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, a member of the forum, told students in a public lecture Wednesday that Takana went public with its allegations after Elon continued his behavior despite several warnings.
"We are not talking about one case only. I wish it was just one case," said Lichtenstein, who said he has received death threats because of the case.
"It was all done heavy-heartedly," he said. "Believe me, I am aware of the damage caused to the man and his family. His wife is broken and worn out. We had to do it."