Three Orthodox Jewish rabbis yesterday asked a federal appeals court to overturn their convictions on charges they played roles in a ring that used brutal tactics to force unwilling Jewish men to divorce their wives, the Times of Israel website reports today (January 26, 2017).
The lawyers told the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Philadelphia that investigators violated their clients' constitutional rights and that there were judicial errors during the trial. Federal prosecutors disputed those claims.
Rabbis Mendel Epstein, Jay Goldstein, and Binyamin Stimler were convicted in 2015 on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Epstein -- accused of being the ringleader -- was sentenced to 10 years. Goldstein got an eight-year term, while Stimler received a three-year sentence.
The attacks were carried out from 2009 to 2013 in New Jersey, New York City, and other locations. Prosecutors said the rabbis used brutal methods and tools -- including handcuffs and electric cattle prods -- to torture the men into granting the divorce documents, called "gets."An Orthodox Jewish divorced woman must have obtained a get from her divorced husband in order to remarry.