The Prison Service parole board grants an early release from prison for convicted sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland, deciding to transfer him to house arrest on condition he enter a rehabilitation program and regular psychological assessments.
Berland, 79, who enjoys a cult-like following in the Bratslav Hasidic sect, was convicted in November on two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault as part of a plea bargain. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court sentenced him to 18 months in prison, though they decided that some seven months that he spent in jails in South Africa and the US will count as time served.
Despite his early release from prison, he will remain under house arrest and constant surveillance until October 2017, the parole board decided.
Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he molested two female followers, one of them a minor. He was on the run from authorities until earlier this year, eluding several Israeli attempts to extradite him. He moved between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families.