Charges dropped against rabbi accused of raping 14-year-old

Prosecutors abandon case against David Harrison, ex-teacher at girls’ religious school, due to low likelihood of conviction

Rabbi David Harison is brought for a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on December 18, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rabbi David Harison is brought for a hearing at the Jerusalem District Court on December 18, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Jerusalem court on Sunday freed a  rabbi accused of raping a 14-year-old at the religious girls’ school where he worked, after prosecutors withdrew the charges against him, saying the case was now unlikely to result in a conviction.

In a letter Thursday to the Jerusalem District Court, prosecutors said as a result of an “evidential development” in the plaintiff’s testimony, there was no longer a “reasonable chance” of convicting David Harrison, who was indicted last December.

While praising the decision to drop the charges, a lawyer for Harrison criticized prosecutors for charging him in the first place and Israel Radio reported on Sunday that Harrison would sue for damages.

Harrison, who protested his innocence throughout, told Army Radio that the process that led to his indictment was flawed and “deeply troubling.”

Prosecutors said they were unable to divulge the exact reason for dropping the case out of a need to protect the privacy of his accuser.

“After another interview with the complainant conducted in recent weeks, we   reached the conclusion that we could not meet the level of proof we would have needed for a conviction,” prosecutor Orit Litman told Israel Radio.

“Think of it as a case that is closed for lack of evidence, that does not indicate that nothing happened, just that we cannot prove it in court,” Litman said. “She does not recant her testimony, but we can’t elaborate due to the need to protect her privacy. It’s not simple; it is very complicated.”

According to the original indictment,  Harrison would call the 14-year-old girl into a faculty lounge or the seminary bomb shelter several times a week, and she would comply out of fear of retribution. Once alone and with the room locked, the rabbi was accused of “indecent acts, sodomy and rape.”

The rabbi reportedly told the girl that what was happening was a “secret between them,” and that it was okay because he was a rabbi, the indictment said.

After the first alleged rape, the rabbi told the girl if she told anyone what happened, he would hurt her and tell everyone she was a prostitute.

The charges were filed when the girl was 20, six years after the alleged acts.

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