Jerusalem, Jan 15 (ANI): An Israeli cult leader, who was romantically involved with 17 women and fathered an estimated 60 children with them, was arrested on Tuesday over suspicion of "enslaving" members of his group and raping a number of the women.
Goel Ratzon, 59, a self-styled "spiritual guru" from south Tel Aviv, was arrested during police raids on two addresses in the Hatikva neighborhood, following a seven-month undercover investigation.
It is believed that a woman, who had lived with Ratzon before leaving the cult, might have tipped off the authorities and triggered the investigation.
Reports suggest that she was asked to return to one of the cult leader's homes by police and to act as an undercover agent.
Ratzon's defense attorney, Shlomzion Gabai, said her client suspected that a former insider acted as a source on behalf of the authorities.
His remand was extended on Wednesday by 12 days, at a Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court session held behind closed doors.
In addition to rape and enslavement, police said he was under suspicion of inciting the women to commit suicide.
The police also arrested two women - one on suspicion of physical abuse, and the other on suspicion of failing to report abuses to the authority.
Ratzon's 17 partners were detained for questioning, and later taken with their children into temporary protective care by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services.
It is believed that around 40 of Ratzon's children are still minors.
However, Police have refused to disclose whether the children were victims of sexual offenses, saying the investigation is still under way.
Ratzon is cooperating with police and has answered questions, telling them everything that went on in his homes took place "of their own free will."
"We have managed to gather a great deal of evidence regarding the offenses of holding people under conditions of enslavement and rape," the Jerusalem Post quoted Dep.-Cmdr. Shlomi Michael, head of Tel Aviv police's Central Unit, as saying during a press conference on Thursday. (ANI)