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15-year-old charged with multiple counts of rape, sexual assault of minors

Prosecutors allege Tel Aviv teen ‘developed a pattern of sexual aggression against minors’ and ‘treated them like objects’

Israeli youth protest against sexual harassment and assault at their schools, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on December 14, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli youth protest against sexual harassment and assault at their schools, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on December 14, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A 15-year-old student at an elite high school in Tel Aviv was indicted on charges of rape and sexual assault against multiple fellow minors on Thursday, in a case that has shocked the nation.

The charges against the teenager include five counts of rape of a minor, four counts of indecent assault of a minor and one charge of attempted rape. The charges are based on the student’s alleged crimes against six minor females who are aged 15 and younger.

The suspect, who cannot be named in the media due to his age, claims everything that happened was consensual.

Prosecutors dispute that characterization, and offered a sharply worded rebuke at the Juvenile District Court in Tel Aviv.

“The defendant harmed the souls of the minors, trampled on their will and their dignity, and treated them as objects,” said prosecutor Pnina Levy. The teenager “developed a pattern of sexual aggression against minors, and his serial harm poses an exceptional danger for someone of his age.”

The indictment alleges that the suspect carried out the attacks “against the will of the minors, without the student bothering to clarify their consent and at times despite their opposition.”

The student’s remand was extended for another week, at least until through next Thursday.

Victims were said to have come from three schools, although none of the incidents happened on campus. At least one of the victims is reportedly from the suspect’s school.

Illustrative: Israeli students wearing face masks return to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

An undercover investigation into the accusations was brought to an abrupt end after the suspect got wind of the developments and tried, through mutual friends, to persuade his accusers to drop the matter, Channel 13 reported. The police instead quickly arrested him.

The suspect had transferred from another school after a previous accusation of rape that was not reported to police nor disclosed to the new school he moved to. According to some reports, staff at the first school were also unaware of the accusation, though he had previously had issues with alcohol and smoking at school.

The alleged rape at the first school came to light only after a female student shared her experience with a teacher. She was apparently prompted to do so after hearing of other alleged assaults by the student.

Another incident was said to involve an assault at a party in a private home last month. A complaint regarding that incident was filed with the police, leading to the opening of an undercover investigation.

During the previous school year, 4,653 students were sexually assaulted, with over 2,000 of those acts committed by other students, according to Channel 13 news. At least 163 of those cases were classified as rape.

Earlier this month, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton announced a program that aims to tackle violence in schools. The Education Ministry has allocated around NIS 438 million to the program, of which about NIS 30 million will go toward counseling in elementary and middle schools.

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