New York rabbis arrested over allegations of forcing husbands to divorce their wives happened in Brooklyn Thursday. New York Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark were arrested after they were exposed for charging Jewish women and their families tens of thousands of dollars to force husbands into religious divorces that are known as "gets," the FBI said.
ABC News reported Oct. 11 that the rabbis agreed to force torture agreements from the men for the sole purpose of money, not due to religious beliefs.
"They didn't do it out of religious conviction," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Gribko told a judge in a federal court hearing for his clients. "They did it for money."
There's another side to how this is being looked at.
"It's a very complex case. The government says it's all about money, but I don't think that's quite right," Marc Agnifilo, an attorney for Wolmark said. He claims that the violent methods of coercing unwilling husbands to give their wives a divorce is "an old tradition."
The New York rabbis were arrested after two undercover FBI agents caught them accepting $50,000 to force a "get" from one of them. One of the agents posed as a woman paying for the rabbis' services to force her husband into a divorce. The rabbis allegedly kidnapped then beat the men -- even using cattle prods in some cases. They also put plastic bags over their heads.
Initial suspicion of this practice occurred in the 1990s. 10 other men were also arrested besides the New York rabbis.