A former Jerusalem police chief convicted of sexual harassment was released on Thursday after spending six and a half months in prison, after the Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ efforts to prevent his early release.
Nissan “Niso” Shaham was convicted of sexual harassment, five counts of breach of trust and five counts of indecent acts for having sexual relations with multiple female police officers under his command who were much younger and of relatively low rank in the police.
Prosecutors claimed that on multiple occasions Shaham coerced policewomen into sleeping with him, and later made decisions about their careers.
Last month, a prison parole board granted early release to Shaham, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison, citing his good behavior. Shaham had only started his prison time in March.
The Tzalmon Prison board made the decision despite the opposition of prosecutors and rehabilitation authorities.
Leaving the prison on Thursday evening, Shaham said he did not care about the public criticism over his early release and that his case “has no plaintiffs.”
In their appeal to the Supreme Court, state prosecutors argued that Shaham did not deserve to be released early, saying he had not taken responsibility for his actions and did not go through a rehabilitation program in jail.
The prosecution also cited statements made by Shaham while in prison, which it said showed that not only did he not regret his actions, carried out while serving in senior official positions, but that he still did not consider them to be criminal in nature.
But the court was not convinced, citing a report about Shaham’s early meeting with social workers in the prison that said the former officer had initially taken “limited responsibility” for his actions, but later said he was “tormented” by the consequences of his actions and would do anything in his power to prevent his victims’ pain.
The court ruling noted that Shaham’s remorse appeared to be genuine, and accepted his claim of initially having difficulties expressing himself because he was embarrassed by his behavior, “which distanced him from his internal truth.”
The court also cited an external opinion submitted by Shaham to the prison board that claimed that he had expressed genuine remorse and expressed motivation to receive professional help.
These convinced the High Court to reject the prosecution’s appeal and approve Shaham’s early release Thursday.
The Na’amat women’s rights group slammed the development as “scandalous,” adding that the decision won’t help restore public trust in the system.
“We’re talking about a sex offender who enjoyed lenient sentencing from the get-go and is now receiving another prize in the form of shortening his prison term,” Na’amat chairwoman Hagit Peer wrote.
Shaham was convicted of indecent conduct in 2018, but was acquitted of nearly a dozen other charges filed against him over alleged sexual relationships with numerous female officers under his command. The district court threw out one count of sexual harassment, five counts of breach of trust and another count of indecent behavior.
He was sentenced later that year to community service, but in September 2019, the Tel Aviv District Court accepted the prosecution’s appeal, overturned the decision to clear Shaham of sexual harassment, fraud, and breach of trust, and convicted him of the original charges.
In February 2020, he was slapped with a 10-month prison sentence along with five months of probation and several fines. After several unsuccessful appeals, Shaham entered prison on March 1, 2022.
Throughout the investigation and trial, Shaham repeatedly refused to sign a deal that would have seen him plead guilty to the breach of trust charges.