Minor infractions
Hebrew Media Review

Minor infractions

A 40-year-old woman is arrested for running an underage sex ring; police recommend additional charges against Olmert

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Ehud Olmert and Shula Zaken, September 2011. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Ehud Olmert and Shula Zaken, September 2011. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Friday’s Hebrew papers teem with scandal after a 40-year-old woman was arrested for having sex with countless minors in Kiryat Gat, and Israel’s king of misconduct Ehud Olmert returns to the limelight with new police allegations of obstruction of justice.

Both Israel Hayom and Yedioth Ahronoth feature an image of the female suspect in custody, her face blurred out, wearing a shirt reading “Running Wild.”

The woman was a well-known figure among local teenage boys, who would pass around her telephone number, call and make appointments, and later go over to her home, Yedioth Ahronoth reports.

As of Thursday, seven boys under the age of 14, and 10 over the age of 14 filed complaints, but police suspect that over the course of the past few years, the woman slept with “more than a hundred teenagers and boys in Kiryat Gat — and no responsible adult was around to put an end to it.”

The arrest also sparked an STD scare; rumors that the woman has AIDS had the parents up in arms. However, much of the speculation is unfounded, the paper reports. The suspect agreed to test for AIDS, it writes.

“I was at her place twice,” a ninth-grader told the paper. “I also know eighth-graders who went there. Kids would send her pictures of their friends, and she would approve everyone to come… Sometimes the kids wouldn’t have protection, and she would say it’s fine, that she’s not sick. Now, there is a lot of concern, because we don’t know what will happen with the AIDS testing and whether we’re sick.”

Israel Hayom reports that the woman in question confessed to the charges, telling police she preferred boys aged 12, 13, and slept with many of them over the course of five years. She admitted to knowing they were underage, stating that “I only wanted young ones.”

“I find it hard to believe that my son, 13, who we raised to behave differently, fell into this trap and was enticed to go to her home,” said a mother of one of the complainants. “I only hope that she doesn’t turn out to be an [AIDS] carrier, and our world will turn upside-down. It’s a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on any parent.”

Haaretz reports the woman is set to undergo a psychiatric evaluation upon her request, and provides more information about the defendant’s troubled background. According to the report, the local welfare services were familiar with the woman, and prior to a court order, refused to cooperate with the investigation. The woman had a son who passed away when he was one month old, and a daughter who was taken away by the city’s social services.

A resident of Kiryat Gat told the paper that the woman was in labor two years ago, and chose to give birth in the street instead of at the hospital, fearing that her baby would be taken away.

The suspect’s attorney described her as “a very unfortunate woman, in a very, very serious [state of] psychological distress, who had very tragic and difficult experiences in her life,” according to Yedioth.

In an op-ed for Yedioth, Merav Betito castigates the parents of the teenagers in question in a column entitled “Where are the parents?”

“Dear Parents, the dark cloud floating above you is not the shadow of a poor woman who does not know any other way to get love or human contact. It’s also not the AIDS or any sickness. It’s far worse than that — and it won’t dissipate so quickly… It’s difficult to question the parents’ shock when they heard about the events, but it’s an easy bet that they never bothered to speak to their children about love, normal sex as an expression of deep emotion, and other issues worthy of discussion to shape the teenage years.”

The papers also provide nearly identical accounts of the new police recommendation that ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert — who, two weeks ago, was sentenced to six years in prison for graft — be charged with obstruction of justice. Police also recommended that charges be filed against one of Olmert’s attorneys, Navot Tel Tzur.

The new investigation was spurred by recordings provided by Olmert’s former aide-turned-state witness Shula Zaken, which reportedly indicate that her boss paid her not to testify against him.

The ex-premier was also said to instruct Zaken before she testified, and took measures to ensure she would not sign a deal with the prosecution and turn state’s witness, Israel Hayom reports.

Tel Tzur denied his role in the alleged obstruction, the papers report. “He strongly rejects the suspicions attributed to him and the police announcement. He is confident the issue will be examined carefully by the prosecution. The investigation materials that were presented show Tel Tzur did not commit any crime, and that he acted on Shula Zaken’s request in good faith, professionally,” a statement from his office read.

Israel Hayom also reports that Olmert filed a Supreme Court appeal to bar the publication of the recordings on Thursday.

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