Times of Israel [Jerusalem, Israel]
November 15, 2022
By TOI staff
Assault claim against far-right spiritual leader, dating back 40 years, falls outside statute of limitations, but prosecutors want statement to shed light on first accuser’s claims
Israel Police will take a statement from a second woman who claims that Rabbi Zvi Tau raped her decades ago, seeking to bolster allegations against the politically connected religious leader.
The second woman, who has been named in media only as Dorit, is expected to speak with investigators on Tuesday. Though the alleged incident happened too long ago to prosecute, her testimony may help support that of another woman who also accuses Tau of sexual assault.
Multiple women have accused Tau of sexual abuse and rape dating back decades, with two going public so far.
Tau, 85, is the head of the influential Har Hamor Yeshiva in Jerusalem, as well as the spiritual leader of the anti-LGBT Noam political party, which won a single seat in the next Knesset as part of the far-right Religious Zionism slate.
The police initially asked Dorit to come to the Hebron police station in the southern West Bank, which is handling the case. At her request, they agreed to meet with her at a station closer to her home in the northern West Bank,
The first woman, Nechama Te’ena, went public in August, but her allegations were largely ignored at the time by the police and the media. In recent weeks, she has staged small protests outside the Knesset, accusing Tau of raping her and others, and demanding to know why the Israel Police have refused to investigate.
Last week, Dorit also accused Tau of assaulting her in a video testimony recorded in her home. After viewing the video, several prominent rabbis called for Tau to be investigated. Police said Sunday that they will set up a special team to handle the case.
According to police, Te’ena is currently the only accuser who has filed an official police complaint. Others have spoken anonymously to the media or spoken to rabbinic officials about their accusations.
Dorit claimed that, some 40 years ago, she was helping Tau’s wife at their home when the rabbi cornered her in the kitchen and assaulted her. She said she was able to fight him off and escape the ground floor apartment via a porch.
Though the statute of limitations for the incident has expired, prosecutors see value in Dorit speaking to police to shed light on Te’ena’s allegations, the Kan public broadcaster reported.
Earlier Monday, Dorit told Ynet in an interview that a month or two after the alleged assault, she went to the police to complain, but the officers who interviewed her at the time would not believe that a rabbi would do such a thing and threw her out.
The Takana Forum, which specializes in dealing discreetly with sexual abuse cases in the Modern Orthodox community, apparently will not investigate the accusations against Tau, and did not look into it in the past, Kan reported.
Sources said the forum, which is made up of Orthodox rabbis, only deals with cases that have not yet been reported by media and also when they are formerly asked to look into the matter, which has not happened.
At a discussion held on the matter, some of the forum’s member rabbis were against giving any public comment on the Tau affair, and as a result there will be no official response, Kan reported.