Court overturns decision to clear former top cop of sexual harassment

District Court convicts Nissan Shaham of the original charges, including breach of trust; tells lower court to re-sentence him

Former Jerusalem District Commander, Nissan 'Niso' Shaham, at the district court in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2018. (Flash90)
Former Jerusalem District Commander, Nissan 'Niso' Shaham, at the district court in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2018. (Flash90)

The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday overturned a lower court’s decision to clear a former Jerusalem police chief of sexual assault, fraud and breach of trust charges.

Nissan Shaham was convicted of indecent conduct in April 2018 for kissing a junior officer, but was acquitted of one count of sexual harassment, five counts of breach of trust and another count of indecent behavior filed against him over alleged sexual relationships with numerous female officers under his command.

Prosecutors claimed to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court that on multiple occasions Shaham had coerced policewomen into sleeping with him, and later made decisions about their careers.

In December, Shaham was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and six months of probation.

The District Court accepted the state’s appeal and convicted him of the original charges. It kicked the case back down to the lower court for sentencing.

Shaham’s parallel appeal against his conviction of the lesser offense was rejected. He is expected to appeal the current decision to the Supreme Court.

Jerusalem Police Commissioner Nissan 'Niso' Shaham at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem's Old City in February. Shaham was ordered to take a leave of absence on July 26 and is being investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Former Jerusalem police chief Nissan ‘Niso’ Shaham at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2012. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Prosecution attorney Naomi Granot hailed the decision, saying the court had “set a moral ruling that a senior officer who has sexual relations with subordinate police officers, knowing that he may be making decisions regarding them, is committing a criminal offense of fraud and breach of trust, severely harming the public’s trust in the police force and the entire law enforcement system. That, regardless of whether he committed a sexual crime or not.”

Orit Suliteanu, director general of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI), also welcomed the ruling as a “worthy and important decision.”

In his original ruling, Justice Benny Sagi said “the actions of the defendant cannot be seen as ‘just a kiss.'”

Sagi ruled in his decision at the time that other than in one instance, Shaham’s encounters with the junior officers were consensual and did not constitute a criminal offense.

“Despite the conflict of interests, his decisions regarding the police officers he was involved with… were justified,” he wrote in his decision.

Throughout the investigation and trial, Shaham repeatedly refused to sign a plea deal that would have seen him plead guilty to the breach of trust charges.

After his April conviction Shaham called the accusations against him “delusional” and untrue, and said the entire investigation was “much ado about nothing.”

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