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Prosecution closes case against Maccabi soccer stars accused of statutory rape

State finds no evidence players knew girls were under age of consent; prosecutor still investigating online shaming and bullying of girls after case became public

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Dor Micha controls the ball during a Europa League soccer match against Villarreal at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, December 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Dor Micha controls the ball during a Europa League soccer match against Villarreal at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, December 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

The State Attorney’s Office on Monday closed a case involving two Israeli soccer players accused of statutory rape for having sex with two 15-year-old girls, saying there was no evidence that they knew the girls were underaged.

The Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer players, Dor Micha, a 28-year-old-midfielder, and Omer Atzili, a 26-year-old winger, were suspected in June of having illicit consensual sex with two minors and supplying them alcohol.

The statutory rape cases were closed after the prosecution found there was no evidence to support the assertion that the men knew the girls were underaged, after apparently being misled into thinking they were 17 and above the age of consent.

The prosecution also said there was no public interest in prosecuting them for a charge of supplying minors with alcohol.

However, the state prosecutor noted that it was still investigating the online shaming and bullying the two girls were subjected to after the incident became public. “The prosecution takes this phenomenon seriously, and the investigation is still ongoing.”

The players said they met the girls at a party hosted by another Israeli Premier League player, where they exchanged numbers. They later met at the house of one of the players, where they had sex, Hebrew-language reports said at the time.

The two players told police that they did not know the girls were underage and gave authorities access to their cellphones to view text messages between them and the girls. Associates of the players previously told the Haaretz daily the girls presented themselves as 17, adding they have text messages proving this.

In response to the closure of the case, Orit Sulitzeunau, Executive Director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said, “the closure of the case against Dor Micha and Omar Atzili once again demonstrates the helplessness of the criminal system.”

“The public lesson should be that closing the case does not whitewash their actions, nor make them acceptable,” she said.

One of the girls has denied they lied about their age.

“They’re lying. We never said we’re 18 and we weren’t asked our ages,” she told Channel 12 News in June. “The soccer players knew we were high school students. I’m really hurt. I understand I was taken advantage of.”

Atzili and Micha have been embroiled in the scandal since June and have been temporarily suspended from playing for Maccabi, which said that the allegations were “serious.”

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