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US rabbis held for kidnap, torturing husbands

13 October 2013, 09:19

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 husbands.

"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.


Tags fbi us religion

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