The parents of a four-year-old boy suffering from muscular dystrophy were arrested Saturday on suspicion of physically and sexually abusing the child.
Police were alerted to the child’s condition by the medical staff at the Safra Children’s Hospital in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv.
According to the hospital, doctors began to suspect the child was being harmed by those close to him, including during his hospital stays. They contacted the police, who placed a hidden camera in the boy’s hospital room last week.
According to initial police and hospital reports, the camera recorded the mother allegedly attempting to poison the boy and the father allegedly sexually assaulting him.
The child, from Modiin Illit, had already exhibited multiple and apparently unconnected symptoms that came and went without explanation, Prof. Asher Barzilai, head of the pediatric hospital, told reporters on Saturday. The boy was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at one point, and was classified in serious condition, according to the hospital.
“A child arrives in a complicated and serious state and you don’t succeed in reaching a diagnosis even with the best doctors,” Barzilai said. “There’s no disease [that would fit the child’s symptoms]. The [medical] team was aware from the start that something wasn’t right, it didn’t make sense. You start to put together the signs and you realize – this doesn’t happen [on its own].
“You have to understand that the decision to pass a case on to social workers and the police can destroy a family,” Barzilai said. The doctors only took the step when they were “certain” the child was being harmed intentionally.
Despite a gag order that prevents publication of any new details of the investigation, including the identity of the parents, police said Saturday that the parents are suspected of a long list of crimes, including conspiracy to commit a crime, sexual abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse, and causing serious harm to a helpless individual.
Police arrested the parents on Saturday morning, and custody of the child has been transferred to social services.
On Saturday night, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended the father’s remand by four days and the mother’s by three.