Identity of 5-year-old rape victim hidden by vow

Identity of 5-year-old rape victim hidden by vow

Key witness in case reportedly determined not to expose ultra-Orthodox family of child who underwent abuse

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Ultra-Orthodox children in Jerusalem (illustrative photo credit: Lara Savage/Flash 90)
Ultra-Orthodox children in Jerusalem (illustrative photo credit: Lara Savage/Flash 90)

A 5-year-old girl was reportedly raped in the ultra-Orthodox city of Modiin Illit, but the kindergarten supervisor who found and cared for the child refused to cooperate with the police, having taken a religious vow not to expose her identity.

Police sources said it wasn’t the first time members of the tightly knit community preferred to not air their dirty laundry in public, but instead deal with it using their own methods, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.

Seven people, all officials in the city’s welfare and education departments, were questioned under oath by the police for possible leads in the case. Investigators also talked to rabbis in the community.

Word of the incident reached the Israel Police after it circulated as a rumor within the ultra-Orthodox community, although no official complaint was filed. Reports differed as to whether the alleged rape had taken place in an abandoned synagogue or the perpetrator’s apartment.

The supervisor was considered the key witness to a breakthrough in the case. She found the girl after the incident, took her home, recommended that her parents take her to a private medical clinic for a checkup and called the local welfare officials to deal with the family.

“We have a problem getting people to testify,” an unnamed police source told Yedioth Ahronoth. The hospital couldn’t provide any information without parental consent because the girl was under 18, but the police didn’t know who the parents were and thus couldn’t find out the identity of the girl.

“We’re dealing with it in our way,” a resident of Modiin was quoted as saying. It was unnecessary for the police “to investigate little girls about non-modest issues,” he said. Even if such stories don’t make the headlines in the press, the matter would be dealt with, he said, “quietly, without a field trial on television.”

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