In Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, Mendel Epstein made a name for himself as the rabbi to see for women struggling to divorce their husbands. Among the Orthodox, a divorce requires the husband’s permission, known as a “get,” and tales abound of women whose husbands refuse to consent.
While it is common for rabbis to take drastic action, such as barring a defiant husband from synagogue life, Epstein, 68, took matters much further, according to the authorities.
For hefty fees, he orchestrated the kidnapping and torture of reluctant husbands, charging their wives as much as $10,000 for a decree permitting violence and $50,000 for hiring others to carry out the deed, according to federal charges unsealed Thursday morning. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.