The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday sentenced Abraham Leshem to 3.5 years in prison over a sexual assault against a four-year-old girl, after dropping rape charges against him.
Two years ago, Leshem, then a 24-year old yeshiva student, allegedly attacked the girl outside a synagogue. On Tuesday, he was sentenced for performing “an indecent act” in public on the young girl.
The girl’s parents, supported by a crowd of demonstrators, protested the judge’s decision to acquit Leshem of rape charges.
“She [was] four and a half years old, and his punishment doesn’t even amount to her age. This is shameful,” the girl’s father exclaimed.
The indictment was filed against Leshem in 2019, after he approached the girl while she was alone and attacked her, leaving DNA evidence on her clothes.
In September, a year and a half into the trial, the judge acquitted Leshem of rape, charging him only with indecency. The defendant refused to cooperate with the investigation and remained silent throughout.
The girl’s mother, in anguish, addressed her child’s attacker: “She went to the synagogue with her father and brother. What did you do to her?… Why did you ruin our lives? You sit in court silent with a smile on your face and think you are a hero? You are a coward, a hero for the weak.”
“We will fight for her and for all the children who are in danger when he roams free. We have learned of more cases where he has hurt children, and they were silenced, hidden, or swept under the rug. We will go to war and justice will be on our side.”
Defense attorney Liron Malka, representing Leshem, said: “The evidence was examined accurately and professionally. The prosecution erred in filing an indictment for rape… There was no evidentiary basis in the case; therefore he wins, and we are happy with the result.”
Before the sentencing, the girl’s father turned to judge Rebecca Friedman-Feldman and declared: “A criminal will be released, and you did not do your job. We will protest here until you realize you fell asleep on duty.”
עשרות מפגינים מחוץ לבית המשפט המחוזי בירושלים על זיכוי הנאשם מאונס בת ארבע וחצי חוסמים את הכביש וקוראים לשופטים "בושה! איך אתם ישנים בלילה?" pic.twitter.com/wQVYli4LV7
— Inbar Tvizer ענבר טויזר (@inbartvizer) March 16, 2021
Protesters gathered after the news emerged that the defendant would only be charged with indecency. The girl’s parents, who had stayed silent for the duration of the two-year trial, began to speak out, calling for support.
“The court protected him instead of the young and helpless,” the child’s mother told Mynet Jerusalem. “Now we have to make noise to help her.”
Protesters arrived adorning signs with the slogans “Listen to children,” and “If you don’t hear us, we will scream,” among others.