Amid all the legal and media hype, Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans, leader of the Jewish sect, Lev Tahor says all they want is to be left alone to practice their religion. The problem is, their practices also include the subjugation of women and the wide spread abuse of children. Rabbi Helbrans, ruler of the sect that has been called the Jewish Taliban, rules this group with an iron fist, considers himself the law of the group and even goes so far as to personally name all the the children in the cult.
The media storm, which started two years ago, centers on fourteen children who had been ordered removed from their homes by child services. Allegations of sexual abuse, confinement, and beatings with crowbars, belts, whips and a coat hanger are among the claims detailed in recently released police documents connected with the ongoing investigation into the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect.
The new documents allege that in December 2012, a 17-year-old pregnant girl, who was taken to hospital by ambulance, was sexually abused by her father and beaten by her brother, adding that she had been married off at age 15. The documents say the 17-year-old girl was “in a psychosis” and incapable of being interviewed after arriving at a children’s hospital, but her injuries were photographed. In a video interview afterwards at the hospital with investigators, the girl makes “no allusion to a crime,” the documents say.
Disobedient girls as young as 13 and 14 were confined in basements of the homes, the documents allege. A report from social workers says a 14-year-old girl they interviewed did not want to return to the community out of fear of marriage, and says she was being intimidated to keep her silent.
“She doesn’t want to return to the community because she is promised to a man, she is very scared and seems to be very indoctrinated and members of the community are very present (redacted) to intimidate this young girl so that she does not talk,” the documents state. The 14-year-old girl said that her father hit her in the face with a belt, and that the wife of a high-ranking sect member beat her with a coat hanger.
A person interviewed by police in the documents said he witnessed one member ordered to hit a woman in the face because she refused to wear a burqa-like covering as dictated by Shlomo Helbrans.
The documents also allege children were brought to Canada from other countries under a false pretext when they were really being brought for a future marriage. Children in the sect were allegedly told “there are black angels who will come find them and they will burn them in hell,” according to the documents.