Leaders of Lev Tahor charged with child exploitation in New York

New York’s FBI and US Attorney’s offices announce charges against five leaders of haredi Lev Tahor sect over kidnapping of 14-year-old girl.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

FBI, Pennsylvania Ave
FBI, Pennsylvania Ave

New York’s FBI and US Attorney’s offices on Monday announced charges against five leaders of the haredi Lev Tahor sect related to child exploitation, after the men kidnapped a 14-year-old girl in 2018, The Forward reports.

Nachman Helbrans, Mayer Rosner, Yakov Weingarten, Shmiel Weingarten and Yoil Weingarten are accused of having brought the girl from New York to Mexico with the intention of returning her to Guatemala, where Lev Tahor is now based, after the girl and her mother escaped the cult in 2018.

According to a release from the Justice Department, they were planning to reunite the girl with her “husband” from a religious marriage, who was 20.

“The defendants engaged in a brazen kidnapping of a minor girl in the middle of the night, taking her across the border to Mexico in order to reunite her with her adult ‘husband’ to continue their sexual relationship,” said the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, in a statement.

“These charges send a clear message that the sexual exploitation of children will not be tolerated.”

Helbrans, the leader of the sect, arranged a religious marriage for the girl, his niece, in 2017 when she was only 12 years old. Her match was at that point an 18-year-old man, Jacob Rosner, who is also being charged with conspiring to kidnap the girl, according to The Forward.

The Justice Department said that local, federal and international law enforcement officials found the girl after a three-week search, and that the men tried to kidnap her and her brother again in March of 2019 and once again last month.