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British woman who accused Israelis of rape a victim of revenge porn, lawyer says

Attorney says leaked video of consensual encounter between 19-year-old complainant and group of Israeli teens in Cypriot hotel a bigger crime than false accusation

Police officers escort a 19-year-old British woman, center, from the Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP/Petros Karadjias)
Police officers escort a 19-year-old British woman, center, from the Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP/Petros Karadjias)

The lawyer for the British teenager facing criminal charges after admitting to falsely accusing a dozen Israelis of raping her at a Cypriot hotel, says his client is still a victim, after video of the encounter was distributed online.

The 19-year-old is facing a year in prison and a $1,890 fine for accusing 12 Israeli tourists aged 15 to 18 of gang raping her at a hotel in the resort town of Ayia Napa last month after a night of partying.

Cypriot police immediately arrested a group of Israelis staying at the hotel, holding them for nearly two weeks until the woman recanted her claim during questioning last Sunday, saying there had been consensual sexual contact with some of the suspects.

The woman reportedly told investigators she filed the rape report because she felt “angry and insulted” when some of the Israelis recorded video of her having consensual sex with a number of them.

Israeli media outlets said the sex video was being circulated on WhatsApp and had been posted on pornography websites.

Her lawyer, Andreas Pittadjis, told reporters that the distribution of the video was more serious than her alleged false statement.

A police officer escorts a 19-year-old British woman, center, to Famagusta court in town of Paralimni, Cyprus, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

“The offense my client is accused of is not considered to be one of the most serious offences in our criminal system,” he said. “The fact that the video of my client appears to have gone around the world is a much more serious offense.”

Andreas Pittadjis, Cypriot lawyer for a British teenager who accused a group of Israelis of gang rape, speaks to the press at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in Cyprus on July 30, 2019. (Matthieu CLAVEL / AFP)

“I want to know who leaked this video and why. This sort of crime is punishable by more than a year in prison. Someone should investigate – both here and in Israel,” Pittadjis said.

Israel in 2014 became the first country to ban the distribution of so-called revenge porn in a bid to protect victims.

The law, which targets sexually explicit media posted without the depicted person’s knowledge or consent, also covers content shared on social media. It stipulates that those found guilty of posting such content will be prosecuted as sex offenders, and that the offense is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Many in Israel have pointed out that even though the teens were exonerated from the rape charges in Cyprus, they would have faced criminal charges for filming the sex if the same incident had occurred in Israel.

Cyprus police on Sunday freed the remaining seven of 12 Israelis who were initially arrested on July 17 after the woman said she was raped by them at the Napa Rocks Hotel. They were greeted by friends and family at Ben Gurion Airport with champagne and celebrations.

Some of the teens have told reporters they regretted nothing and said they intend to sue the woman for libel.

Israeli teens who were cleared of rape allegations in Cyprus reunite with family members at Ben Gurion Airport on July 28, 2019. (Flash90)

The heroes welcome extended to the teens, and reports that they filmed and circulated footage of the drunken encounter to each other, drew criticism in Israel and elsewhere.

But the teens say the sex video and other photos taken that night is what eventually exonerated them.

According to some reports, the woman recanted after she was confronted with a video of the encounter, seized by police, that appeared to show the sex was of a consensual nature.

One of the 12, Yona Golub, told the British Daily Mail news outlet that he had been exonerated when he was able to produce a selfie with his girlfriend taken at the same time as the incident.

“I agree that they shouldn’t have filmed it, and they certainly shouldn’t have sent it around,” Golub, 18, told the Israel Hayom daily. “But at the end of the day, that video is what proved to the judge that there was no rape.”

Golub, one of the few Israelis to speak to the media, said he was arrested after the woman picked him out of a lineup of possible suspects provided by Cypriot police.

He insisted that he was in his room at the time of the incident, but wasn’t cleared until his girlfriend was able to prove he was in their hotel room when it took place.

Golub is one of the three who intend to sue the British woman. He says he has been tarred by the accusation, despite being cleared.

“It was all lies. It had nothing to do with me,” he told the Mail. “I walk in the street and people yell ‘rapist.’ They come to my mother and say ‘your son is a rapist.'”

“I’ve been humiliated because people know me and they think I raped her and this isn’t a small story that just a few people know about. The whole world knows about it,” he said. “I can’t sleep and I’m having nightmares because I think about it all the time.”

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