Rabbi convicted of sex crimes said to confess to new misconduct

Moti Elon, convicted in 2013 of molesting a minor, was confronted by leading rabbis with recorded evidence of his meetings with young accuser; more complaints said to surface

Rabbi Moti Elon, who was convicted in 2013 of sexual assault by force against a minor, is seen at the courtroom of the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, prior to his sentence hearing, on December 18, 2013. (David Vaaknin/Flash 90/Pool)
Rabbi Moti Elon, who was convicted in 2013 of sexual assault by force against a minor, is seen at the courtroom of the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, prior to his sentence hearing, on December 18, 2013. (David Vaaknin/Flash 90/Pool)

Rabbi Mordechai “Moti” Elon has admitted to sexually inappropriate behavior toward a young man, investigative program “Uvda” reported Tuesday, in a new claim that comes five years after Elon was convicted on two counts of sexual assault.

According to the Channel 12 investigative news program, the man recently appealed to a number of leading rabbis and told them that he had reached out to Elon in the past year for assistance in difficulties he was facing. But the meetings quickly took on a sexual nature and involved unspecified alleged offenses.

The young man reportedly recorded several of the meetings, and provided his recordings as evidence to Mercaz Shapira’s Ohr Etzion Yeshiva head Rabbi Haim Druckman, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and former Ramat Gan chief rabbi Yaakov Ariel — all leading figures in the religious Zionist movement.

The man was advised to file a complaint with police but said he prefered the matter be handled by the rabbis.

The three rabbis summoned Elon and he, confronted with the evidence, admitted to the undisclosed offenses. A source told “Uvda” that Elon “did not deny it and took certain responsibility for the actions.”

Elon agreed to stop all public activity including lessons and private meetings and to seek treatment, the report said.

Hadashot TV news reported Tuesday evening that the Takana Forum, which seeks to root out sexual abuse in the religious community, had received several more new complaints against Elon.

Druckman had been one of Elon’s chief supporters following his previous sexual assault scandal, and permitted him to continue teaching at Ohr Etzion.

Elon was convicted in 2013 of committing an indecent act against a minor on two occasions. He was sentenced to six months of community service, as well as a 15-month suspended jail term. Elon, once a celebrated mentor of Israel’s religious Zionist movement, was also ordered to pay the victim NIS 10,000 ($2,850) in compensation.

Rabbi Haim Meir Druckman, recipient of the Life Achievement award for 2012. (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Rabbi Haim Meir Druckman (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

But the prosecution’s demand that he be sent to prison was rejected, with the court ruling that the trial and conviction had themselves caused the rabbi to “fall from grace” and constituted a “severe” punishment for him and his family.

Elon has always denied the claims against him.

In 2015 police looked into new allegations against Elon after a one-time student published a Facebook post saying that the rabbi had harassed him on two occasions. Those claims did not lead to new legal action.

But the accuser’s post garnered wide publicity, making waves in a religious Zionist community already forced to come to terms with Elon’s behavior and some rabbinical support for him.

“Rabbi Druckman’s behavior is a stain on religious Zionism,” read a headline on the national religious website Srugim at the time. In the article, another prominent rabbi, Ronen Neubert, slammed Druckman and other rabbis for their support of Elon and said their public association with Elon would cause more harm to his victims.

Before the allegations against him surfaced, the charismatic Elon was one of the most prominent Zionist Orthodox leaders of his generation in Israel. A leading educator, he was also the head rabbi of Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem’s Old City.

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