Lev Tahor sect leaders are convicted of child exploitation
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Lev Tahor sect leaders are convicted of child exploitation

Nachman Helbrans and Mayer Rosner face a sentence of up to life in prison after a four-week trial over the abduction of two underage siblings in 2018

Lady Justice (Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash)
Lady Justice (Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash)

Two leaders of Lev Tahor, a fundamentalist Jewish sect, were found guilty on Wednesday of kidnapping and child sexual exploitation crimes by a federal jury in White Plains, New York.

Nachman Helbrans and Mayer Rosner face a sentence of up to life in prison after a four-week trial over the abduction of two underage siblings in 2018 in New York and their transportation to Mexico. The goal of the kidnapping was to bring the kidnapped 14-year-old sister to the man she was ceremonially married to within the tiny sect.

“Nachman Helbrans and Mayer Rosner brazenly kidnapped two children from their mother in the middle of the night to return a 14-year-old girl to an illegal sexual relationship with an adult man,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

The trial concluded as the sect recently dispersed from its former haven in Guatemala and made a failed attempt to find refuge in Iran.

According to the prosecution’s announcement of the verdict, Helbrans and Rosner used “disguises, aliases, drop phones, fake travel documents, an encrypted application, and a secret pact” as part of their plan.

Three weeks after the kidnapping, a chase involving hundreds of law enforcement officials led authorities to Mexico, where the children were recovered and the two men were arrested. Members of Lev Tahor tried to kidnap the children twice more after that, according to the announcement.

Helbrans became the group’s leader after his father died in 2017, and he drove the sect to embrace more extreme practices, especially around child marriage, the announcement said.

After decades in the media spotlight and multiple conflicts with the law across Israel, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Guatemala, the future of Lev Tahor is unclear.

Other Lev Tahor members have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping. The bulk of the sect’s membership is spread out across several countries after Kurdish authorities in Iraq recently detained about 70 members and deported them to Turkey, which in turn forced them to find other destinations.

Romanian authorities told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they had turned away 24 people, including 13 children, who arrived at the Bucharest airport from Istanbul last week. Meanwhile, some sect members who made their way to Moldova were also turned away, according to Yeshiva World News, an Orthodox news service. A prominent rabbi in Turkey, Mendy Chitrik, told the Orthodox news service that he had no intention of helping the sect’s members if they return to that country.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments