New York - Two ultra-Orthodox rabbis, who allegedly accepted
money from women in exchange for kidnapping and torturing their husbands, were
charged in a US federal court, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark were accused at
a court in New Jersey on Thursday of using violence to force men to grant their
wives permissions to divorce for the price of tens of thousands of dollars.
In Orthodox Jewish communities, women are required to get
the husband's consent to be able to divorce regardless of the situation, which
makes separation impossible if the man refuses to grant the permission.
Epstein and Wolmark are accused of taking money from
women desperate to escape their marriages and using violence to persuade their
"They beat them up, tied them up, shocked them with
tasers and stun guns until they got what they want," lead prosecutor R
Joseph Gribko told The New York Times.
The religious leaders were apprehended in an FBI sting
operation with an officer posing as a woman wanting to get a divorce, leading
to the arrest of eight other people in connection with the case, according to
The New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper.
In a surveillance recording from the operation obtained
by the newspaper, one of the rabbis explained to the undercover officer how
they would force the husband to agree to the divorce.
"We take an electric cattle prod," he said in
the recording. "If it can get a bull that weighs five tons to move... You
put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know
While the case might sound bizarre, the practice in
Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City seems to be so prevalent that it
prompted a rabbinic council to condemn such kidnappings in 1996, according to
The New York Times.