Man Marries 21 Women Ends in Jail for 30 Years

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Man Marries 21 Women Ends in Jail for 30 Years
Sat 01-11-2014

An Israeli polygamous self-styled cult leader whose record of depravity sent shock waves through Israel has begun a 30-year jail sentence after subjecting 21 women he had taken as "wives" and many of the 38 children he fathered by them  after persuading them that he was a religious saviour possessed of godly powers.

Goel Ratzon's regime came to an end when he was arrested in 2010 following a television report and a police investigation which alleged that he was presiding over a harem in Tel Aviv.

A Prosecutor's indictment against him alleged that he had committed crimes "that will rattle the mind, the imagination and question human morality".

A panel of judges acquitted him of separate charges of enslavement of a type the prosecutor described as "common during the darkest times of human history".

That verdict angered one of his "wives", named only as "Maayan". "I was in complete slavery. If the State of Israel had not released me, I would have been serving a life sentence," she said.

Ratzon was convicted of carrying out sexual offences against six of the seven women who testified against him, some of whom were his daughters and most of whom were minors.

He denied the charges and insisted that the women, many of whom had his name and portrait tattooed on their bodies, consented to living with him.

Despite the serious nature of his crimes, Ratzon's sentencing contained an element of farce when he failed to arrive on time for his hearing. The Israel Prisons Service blamed a computer fault for failing to alert staff to transport him to the court from his prison cell in the southern town of Beersheba.