Deputy education minister testifies for Haredi teacher charged with sexual abuse
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Deputy education minister testifies for Haredi teacher charged with sexual abuse

Meir Porush asks court to allow suspect, accused of abusing minors at Tel Aviv institution, to attend daughter's wedding to prevent her 'trauma'

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush at the opening of the ministry's crisis center, in preparation for the opening of the school year, August 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush at the opening of the ministry's crisis center, in preparation for the opening of the school year, August 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush appeared in court Monday to request that an ultra-Orthodox teacher currently facing trial for severe physical abuse of pupils and multiple incidents of sexually assaulting minors, be temporarily released from custody in order to attend his daughter’s wedding.

Avraham Rosenfeld, 49, was indicted in August last year for a series of abuse charges, including sexual assault, indecent acts, extortion under threats, and making threats against students at the Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School in Tel Aviv.

Five other teachers from the Belz Hasidic sect school were also indicted at the time for attacks on minors in their care. In June this year, Yisrael Haim Shapira, 65; Haim Fishgrund, 69; Moshe Hirsch, 39; Menachem Alberstein, 62; and Avraham Pinhas Deitish, 53, were all sentenced to community service and ordered to pay NIS 10,000 (USD $2,800) to the victims.

Rosenfeld’s trial, however, focusing on more serious crimes, is still ongoing. Upon indictment, the Tel Aviv District Court ordered he be imprisoned until the end of legal proceedings.

Last month, he filed a request to leave police custody for one evening to attend his daughter’s wedding. Speaking during the Monday hearing, Porush implored the judges to accept the request “for the sake of the daughter,” according to the Ynet news website.

“We have heard many things about the accused. We are today focusing on a bride and the most important day of her life,” Porush reportedly said. “It is a trauma to have a wedding without one’s father.”

The deputy minister from the United Torah Judaism party said that he would personally commit to taking Rosenfeld from the prison to the wedding “to check that nothing happens, God forbid.”

Rosenfeld also faces charges of abuse of his own son and extortion and threats against his own wife.

The state prosecution argued Monday that allowing him to attend the wedding would “give him the opportunity to influence and impair his wife’s testimony.”

A statement from Porush said that he had appeared at the request of the daughter, who he said was in attendance at the hearing.

The incidents attributed to Rosenfeld are alleged to have happened between the years 2000 and 2011. Some 22 students are suspected of having suffered abuse during that time, beginning when they were aged three to four, and continuing on until sixth grade, when they were around 11-12 years old.

Rosenfeld allegedly ordered individual pupils to go alone with him into a room, offering candies as an incentive. He would then allegedly sexually abuse the children, according to the indictments. Afterwards, he would give the children candies and release them.

He is also accused of punishing students by making them put a spoonful of pepper or soap into their mouths, and of refusing to let children take bathroom breaks, leading some to soil themselves.

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