A well-known rabbi in northern Israel suspected of a series of sex offenses against women in his community has met with three of his alleged victims for the first time since the case hit headlines.
According to Channel Two, the confrontation soon descended into a loud shouting match, as the women leveled serious accusations of abuse at the rabbi – whose identity is still the subject of a court-imposed gag order.
According to the report, at one point one of the women shouted at the accused: "You are impure, I will look you in the eye. It is you who should lower your gaze!"
The rabbi reportedly stuck to his version of events, admitting to having had intimate relations with several women while denying he at any point forced himself on them.
"The rabbi confronted several of the complainants and not one of them claimed he had raped her," defense lawyer Ephraim Dimri said. "He replied coolly and in a businesslike manner to all the claims."
"Details of the investigation will be brought before the court and it is the only body entitled to render judgement," he added.
The rabbi, who was the dean of a yeshiva, was arrested while trying to flee Israel at Ben-Gurion airport last week. Soon after his arrest, he was admitted to Ziv Hospital in Tzfat after feeling unwell, but was released several days later in apparent good health.
He was due to be identified by the press following a decision by the Nazareth District Court that revealing his identity was "in the public interest," but that decision has been frozen pending an appeal by his defense team.