The parents of a 14-year-old boy who apparently spent the majority of his life at his Hadera home, and rarely saw the outside world, are no longer suspected of abusing their child, Channel 2 News reported Friday.
Though it remains unclear why the child, who was removed from the house Thursday while his parents were briefly arrested, did not leave the house, police now seem to believe he was not prevented from doing so.
The boy’s parents have claimed that he remained at home due to health issues. The teen’s older sister, who no longer lives at home, has testified that while their father was strict, he never abused them and never stopped them from leaving the house.
The parents were allowed to meet with their son in the city’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center on Thursday evening under supervision, and officials said the boy’s enthusiasm during the encounter also made a history of abuse seem unlikely.
Doctors have said the boy appears to be in a good physical and mental state, another contributing factor in officials’ latest assessment.
Nevertheless, officials said he would remain under supervision while municipal workers consider his condition and his parents’ ability to care for him.
The parents could face charges of neglect, as well as for their failure to send the child to educational institutions, while he remained unknown to local welfare services.
Police broke into the family home Thursday after neighbors reported a stench coming from the building. Authorities expected to find a body inside, but instead found the teen.
Police initially suspected the 14-year-old boy had never left the apartment, except when he was in an outdoor cage built by his father. The youth was taken to Hillel Yaffe for a health check and his parents, both in their 50s, were arrested.
Pictures from inside his living area showed a cramped space, lined with bicycles, bags of clothes and shoes. It was not immediately evident where he slept. The kitchen of the apartment was overflowing with boxes and what looked like bags of trash.
Outside the apartment was a makeshift cage that appeared to be constructed of old, twisted laundry drying racks and covered in sheets or tarps.
It was thought the boy was sometimes kept there, though his sister has since claimed this was simply a makeshift shed built and used by their father.
According to Ynet, the family moved to Hadera in 2009 with some of the neighbors unaware they had a child with them.
“The boy is sick, we are looking out for him, everything we did was done so that he would not go outside and contract diseases,” the mother said, according to Ynet, adding that the Israeli-born teenager was, at some point in his life, treated by doctors.
A lawyer for the mother said she was claiming that the parents acted out of concern for the child, who has health problems but was receiving treatment.
“The mother is upset… and is worried about her son,” the lawyer said.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.