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Education director in Haredi city named as suspect in child sex abuse case

Mordechai Be’eri accused of molesting several boys when he was a teacher in Modiin Illit settlement some 13 years ago; court extends his detention

Illustrative: A man suspected of sexual abuse at a court hearing in Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Illustrative: A man suspected of sexual abuse at a court hearing in Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Mordechai Be’eri, director of the education department in the municipality of the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad, was arrested last week over child sex abuse he allegedly committed against his students some 13 years ago, officials said Sunday.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court permitted the publication of Beeri’s identity, amid suspicions that he abused boys aged under 14 in an institute in the settlement of Modiin Illit, where he was a teacher.

A young ultra-Orthodox man recently filed a police complaint, saying he was 12 when Be’eri, now 70, molested him. Since police opened the investigation, they have uncovered several more allegations of abuse, the Ynet news site reported.

Police on Sunday called on other people who may have been abused to come forward and press charges.

Be’eri, originally ordered held by the court last Wednesday, had his remand extended by several more days.

“We are pleased that the police have apprehended the suspect. Every abuser should know that they can face justice, even many years later,” said a statement from Magen, an organization that aids victims of sexual abuse and is assisting the alleged victim.

The arrest comes as Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community is being shaken by sexual abuse allegations against several leading figures.

In December, prominent children’s author and rabbi Chaim Walder died by suicide after the Haaretz newspaper published a series of stories accusing him of sexually assaulting nearly two dozen people, including children — allegations he had denied.

The Walder story has been hailed as a potential turning point in the approach to sexual abuse cases within the insular community.

Haredi radio host Dudi Shwamenfeld recording at the Kol Berama radio station on July 1, 2009. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Last Monday, Dudi Shwamenfeld, a popular Haredi radio host, was accused by multiple women of sexual abuse, including one who said she was 16 when the abuse began.

News of those allegations first broke earlier this month, when it emerged that at least six women had accused the then-unnamed radio host of sexual assault. But last week, according to the Ynet news site, at least one of the complainants filed an official police complaint against Shwamenfeld, a longtime host on the popular Kol Berama radio station that serves the ultra-Orthodox community.

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