Prosecutors on Sunday indicted a 26-year-old resident of the ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlement of Emmanuel for dozens of alleged sex offenses against underage girls.
The indictment handed to Uriah Assis by the Tel Aviv District Court said that over the past four years, he used the internet to abuse at least 45 girls aged 13 to 18, along with several young women over 18.
The charges against Assis include rape or sodomy of a minor, indecent assault, sexual harassment, making threats, obstruction of justice and the possession and production of child pornography.
According to reports, prosecutors said they added the obstruction of justice charge after Assis sought leniency from police during his interrogation, claiming that he had schizophrenia. But a psychiatric examination found that he was faking the mental illness and was fit to stand trial.
Police announced Assis’s arrest last week following a months-long investigation by the Lahav 433 serious crimes unit’s cyber crime division.
In a statement released Thursday, police said Assis had been targeting underage girls online using fake social media profiles for years. Lahav investigators said Assis posed as a soldier, police officer, modeling agent, swimming coach or gynecologist to approach the young girls online.
Investigators uncovered dozens of fake social media profiles that Assis used to contact the girls. Police said they had identified profiles under the names Eleanor Cohen, Anna Issac, Daniel Assus and Sivan Linoy as being the ones he used most.
Once he successfully made contact, Assis would convince the girls to send him explicit photos and videos of themselves. Police said that some of the girls agreed to meet him in person, and he would sexually assault them.
“This is an extensive investigation with a large number of victims,” police said in Thursday’s statement. “The investigation has revealed that serious sex offenses were committed against dozens of minors, some of which were committed when he met the girls in person and some of which were committed online.”
“It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of this case, which is subject to the most thorough investigation by police possible… who appear to be uncovering just the tip of the iceberg,” police said.
Separately on Sunday, a 41-year-old modeling agent from central Israel was indicted on a number of sexual offenses against underage girls.
Prosecutors said Nir Sandler, a resident of Moshav Zeitan, used his position as head of his talent management firm, Passion Management, to abuse at least eight aspiring teenage models and actresses since 2013.
According to the charge sheet, Sandler told the girls the sex acts were part of the “professional training” that they needed to undergo in order to get acting or modeling jobs.
Prosecutors asked the court to remand Sandler into custody until the conclusion of the legal proceedings against him.