A former driver for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sentenced on Sunday to 27 years in prison for rape, sodomy and “indecent acts” of a sexual nature against six minors.
Ilan Shmuel, 54, from Zecharia, an agricultural village outside Beit Shemesh, was convicted in September. Prosecutors said in October that they were seeking a 40-year prison term.
The father of one of the victims, who is also a relative of Shmuel’s, told Army Radio Sunday morning after the sentencing that the family, which had been “torn apart” by Shmuel’s actions, had “come full circle” with the sentence.
Another victim told Army Radio, “I want to turn to every young girl in Israel who has been sexually assaulted, so they will know that there is indeed justice.”
Police first began an investigation into Shmuel in 2012 after a woman, now an adult, claimed he had sexually assaulted her from when she was 9 until she was 16. Investigators then identified nine more women and young girls whom they suspected were victims of Shmuel, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported in 2014.
All of the attacks were allegedly carried out when the victims were young and occurred between 1988 and 2009, according to Hebrew media reports.
During the years of the investigation Shmuel continued to work as a driver at the Prime Minister’s Office, including behind the wheel of Netanyahu’s limousine.
The Civil Service Commission ordered Shmuel on administrative leave in March 2014 after becoming aware of the accusations against him, some two years after the investigation began. Soon after, he was arrested.
The Prime Minister’s Office said at the time that it had acted under direction of the Civil Service Commission and Shmuel was instructed to take forced leave.