JERUSALEM (JTA) — A self-proclaimed rabbi who counseled his followers to commit acts of child abuse and abused several children who lived with him was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Elior Chen was sentenced Monday in Jerusalem District Court to 24 years in prison and damages of $192,000 to his victims, eight children of the woman with whom he lived, a follower whose husband had given her over to the charismatic leader.
One child has been in a persistent vegetative state for the last nearly three years since suffering abuse at the hands of Chen. The children’s mother is serving a five-year jail sentence for her involvement.
Four of Chen’s followers have already been sentenced to up to 20 years each in prison on similar charges.
Chen’s attorney and his supporters on Monday maintained his innocence.
Chen fled Israel for Canada and then Brazil in 2008, and was extradited back to Israel several months later, after he counseled his followers to severely beat and burn the children in order to rid them of the devil. Some of the children were forced to drink alcohol and turpentine until they vomited, and to eat their own feces. They often were locked in suitcases and other small spaces.