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Israel’s Fritzl charged with rape and incest

Goel Ratzon, 60 is charged with brainwashing his ‘wives,’ into believing he was blessed with supernatural and healing powers.

Ratzon allegedly persuaded the women to give him their monthly benefit handouts and forced them to take out bank loans, which he confiscated.“Through this total control, the defendant led the women to completely scrap their character and devote their existence to satisfy his needs, including his financial and sexual needs,” the indictment reads. It says that he modelled himself as a ‘godlike’ figure to the women, whom he enticed to worship him, following a rulebook that dictated their lives. He had at least 49 children with the women and is also accused of raping underage girls. Since his arrest last month, many of the women once under Ratzon’s control have come forward. One woman said Ratzon raped her almost from the ages of 15 to 17. Almost all of the women are expected to testify during the trial.

An Israeli TV documentary last year showed Mr Ratzon’s wives, many of whom had their bodies tattooed with images of Ratzon’s face, feeding him and stroking his grey beard, The Times newspaper reported. Speaking outside his hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court, Mr Ratzon maintained his innocence. “They can say things about me that are not true. They are pressuring me during investigation,” he said. He added that the “book of rules” published by the media and catalogued by police was “an invention”. Mr Ratzon is depicted as an expert manipulator. He is said to have lured women away from their friends and family and ridiculed and insulted them. The ‘supreme goal’ of the wives, police said was to bear him children.

Psychologists who have spoken to Mr Ratzon’s wives have said that they are concerned for their mental wellbeing. It has been traumatic for them to realise the brainwashing they were under, police said. The Israeli public have been outraged by the case and have asked why he was not arrested sooner. Police said that they knew about Mr Ratzon for years but could not gather enough evidence for his arrest until women came forward and filed complaints.

By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children