Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Man ‘Kidnapped and Raped Ex-Wife’

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man kidnapped his ex-wife and raped her in a secret ‘dungeon’ after refusing to grant her a religious divorce, a court heard.

The defendant, from Hackney, allegedly lured the woman to his warehouse, with the help of Steven Hill, 54, under the pretext of collecting her granddaughter.

The 62 year-old, who cannot be named, and Hill then bundled her into a concealed cellar where he tied her up and raped her, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

The couple had been granted a divorce in the UK courts but, according to Jewish custom, they were still married.

The husband allegedly left the woman locked in the cellar on October 15, 2014 where she was able to call for help.

Police found her later that day tied up, extremely distressed, half naked and covered in bruises, jurors heard.

Charlotte Newell, prosecuting, described the couple’s troubled past.

She said: ‘The couple had been married for some 28 years.

They had eight children together. They are ultra-orthodox Hassidic Jews and follow their customs and rituals.

‘Therefore they have divorced in a UK court in 2008, undergoing what appeared to be an acrimonious process.

‘But they are still technically husband and wife and until he grants her a “get” or “release” they still considered themselves married under their own customs.
‘Until he grants her a “get” she is known as a “chained” woman in the community.

‘He has constantly refused to grant her that and they lived apart. They had no sexual relationship, and she described him as physically “sickening”.’

Ms Newell described the day of the offences as happening on the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

She said: ‘The nub of this case is that the two defendants are old friends. There was an earlier trial that came to no resolution.

‘On that date the alleged victim was physically overpowered by her husband and Hill.

‘She was taken to a secure dungeon-style cellar, that was concealed in a hidden room, and she was raped by her ex-husband. When she was bundled into the cellar room Hill withdrew.

‘She was then left in this foul room where she would have remained had she not been able to call the police, who forced there way into the premises and found the cellar.

‘They found her distressed, covered in bruises from head to toe, naked but for a dressing gown and skirt, and still bound by the restraints that had been used to restrain her.

Ms Newell added that the wife was suspicious of the circumstances leading up her alleged kidnap because her ex-husband arranged the meeting in English the day before.

‘On October 14, the day before the offences, she was contacted and she came to the warehouse to pick up her grandchild.

‘She found it strange that he made the arrangements with the phone and was very specific about when she should arrive.

‘He spoke to her in English, not in Yiddish as if he was talking for the benefit of somebody else,’ said the prosecutor.

‘As the wife arrived late that day the defendant asked her to return the next day to pick up her grandchild.

‘On October 15 she attended the warehouse to collect her grandchild as had been agreed.’

The defendant denies two counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment.

Hill, of East Bank, Stoke Newington, denies one count of kidnap.

The trial, expected to last 3 weeks, continues.

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