Plea Bargain for Haredi Mother Accused of Starving Son

By Liel Kyzer (Haaretz)

Published May 14, 2010.
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The state prosecution and defense attorney’s of the Haredi woman charged with systematically starving her 3-year-old son reached a plea bargain on Thursday in which the woman would confess to the crimes alleged to her and serve only three years under house arrest.

The woman was arrested in July after police secretly videotaped her removing a feeding tube from her 3-year-old son’s body, who was hospitalized suffering from severe malnutrition. The arrest of the mother, who belongs to the religious sect Toldot Aharon, sparked riots among Jerusalem’s communities. The mother spent the last few months since her arrest under house arrest.

The plea bargain was reached after Dr. Michael Weintraub, head of the hematology-oncology ward at Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem, where her son was hospitalized, testified about the mother’s behavior and the various marks of abuse on her son’s body.

“Every time we tried to feed him with a feeding tube, which was attached to his stomach, the mother immediately reported that he was suffering from severe stomach aches and he was screaming and throwing up,” Weintraub said.

“The area around the feeding tube became infected many times – a phenomenon we are unfamiliar with and we did not find an explanation for,” he added.

“When a doctor knows about a problem he looks for a solution, and he doesn’t want to think that there is a person hurting the child,” Dr. Weintraub testified, adding that due to the child’s various symptoms, they had to put the child through several painful procedures, and even considered bone marrow transplant, which turned out to be unnecessary after they discovered the mother was the cause for the problems.

The doctor said that they learned that the mother was responsible after they asked the child, who only spoke Yiddish, how the feeding tube was removed, and he told his uncle who translated for him, that his mother had done it.

Dr. Wintroub added that once the mother was removed from the hospital the child’s ailments, which included open and infected wounds, healed and his condition improved immensely.

The mother had refused to confess the crimes alleged to her, therefore the evidentiary stage started on Thrusday, and after Dr, Weintraub’s testimony the defense attorney and the prosecution said that they had reached a plea bargain.

In November, three of her children were secretly smuggled to London on. The boy at the center of the affair was not one of them, however.

After the children were revealed to have been smuggled abroad, the Jerusalem District prosecutor’s office appealed to the court to limit the conditions of the mother’s house arrest, fearing that she will attempt to escape to join her children.

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