Sect members charged with abusing children to 'protect them'

Peta Tikvah, Israel - Three members of the "Ithaca" cult were charged with the severe abuse of their children, according to an indictment submitted to the Peta Tikvah District court on Sunday.

According to the indictment, sect leader, Shay Abramov instructed members to physically abuse their children, in what he called a "treatment" against accidents and illnesses, so to save their lives and prevent their souls from going to hell.

Sect leader Abramov took his own life while in custody in the Hadarim detention center, just four days after being arrested for the alleged abuse. He had been arrested in a Haifa hideaway, where he had stayed prior to his arrest along with his wife and for children.

Abramov's wife, as well as two other parents, were charged with striking their underage children with a carpet beater, as well as with a rolled-up newspaper that was fastened with duct tape. The children were also reportedly encouraged to engage in the abuse themselves.

The marks of violence, called "battle scars," were allegedly supposed to protect the soul from distress. The children were reported to have been made to wear long-sleeved cloths in order to hide the marks, while being excluded from medical care and removed from the public education system.

The state prosecutor's office wrote in the indictment that the allegations "uncover a horrifying tale of abuseā€¦during a period of six months, for the purpose of preventing them from becoming felons and to 'take the evil out of them," adding that the reported abuse was "severe and systematic."

The state had requested the court that the three suspects be remanded for the duration of the legal proceedings against them, or that they would be released to house arrest.