Military prosecutors to ditch plea deal for officer facing 79 counts of sex crimes

Decision follows meetings between chief prosecutor and victims of Lt. Col. Dan Sharoni, who’s accused of secretly filming dozens of subordinates; next hearing to be held Sept. 14

Dan Sharoni, an IDF officer accused of sexual offenses, arrives for a court hearing at a military court in Beit Lid, July 24, 2022. (Flash90)
Dan Sharoni, an IDF officer accused of sexual offenses, arrives for a court hearing at a military court in Beit Lid, July 24, 2022. (Flash90)

The IDF military prosecution has announced that it intends to back away from a plea deal with an Israel Defense Forces officer who allegedly filmed his female subordinates while they were nude without their knowledge, following opposition from many of the victims.

Lt. Col. Dan Sharoni is on trial for 79 counts of sex offenses for his actions, which also included collecting sexual images of soldiers and some civilians over the course of at least eight years.

The military informed Sharoni’s lawyers of their intent on Sunday and said a further hearing on the case will be held on September 14.

“The decision is the result of the steadfast opposition of the victims,” said a statement from lawyers representing several of the victims, noting that “the credibility and integrity of a system are measured by the ability to recognize mistakes and correct them.”

The decision comes after chief prosecutor Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi held a series of meetings with victims to present the terms of the possible plea deal.

Kan news said that while many were opposed, some of the victims supported the deal, whereby Sharoni would admit to the charges and be sentenced to several years in prison, demoted to the rank of private and be required to pay compensation to the 49 victims totaling NIS 250,000 ($72,000).

However, the deal would also see Sharoni’s family members benefit from a significant military pension despite him being too young. Sharoni is currently two years away from the required age for a military pension, and his sentencing trial was therefore scheduled for April 2024, reports said.

Military pensions are generous, and as they are awarded from age 46, they give officers the ability to launch lucrative second careers on top of their large pension packages.

The deal also included the possibility of Sharoni serving his sentence under house arrest, which would allow him to attend a rehabilitation program.

Lt. Col. Dan Sharoni, an IDF officer accused of of secretly filming his female soldiers, at a hearing at a military court in Tel Aviv, December 5, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Following the announcement, Sharoni’s lawyers told the Ynet news site that they intended to appeal to the attorney general to have the case transferred to a civilian court.

“It appears that we cannot get a fair hearing in a military court,” lawyer Adi Eisner said.

“Unfortunately, the military attorney’s office is neglecting considerations of rehabilitation, efficient management of the procedure and even the desire to spare all the complainants the need to testify in court, and instead imposed on us lengthy and complex proceedings,” she said.

According to the December indictment, Sharoni used a variety of hidden cameras, including some placed inside phone chargers, to film soldiers under his command, often installing them in their barracks and showers. He was also accused of taking soldiers’ phones for seemingly innocuous reasons and looking through them to see if they had nude or intimate photos on them and then copying those to his own device.

The indictment lists 49 victims, both female and male, though there may have been others. The majority were soldiers, though he also installed the devices in homes, including his own, and thus also filmed civilians. In addition, he was accused of entering some of his victims’ rooms while they slept and masturbating while filming them.

According to the charge sheet, Sharoni committed his crimes from 2013 to 2021, while he served in three different units in the military. In many of the cases, the victims were soldiers and officers with whom Sharoni had close relationships.

Sharoni has been dismissed from his position and has been in jail since his arrest in November.

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