Prosecutors to review lack of rape charge in alleged assault of 13-year-old girl

After outrage, acting state prosecutor to convene urgent meeting on lenient indictment of Yarin Sherf, 21, accused of sexually assaulting girl at coronavirus hotel

Yarin Sherf is seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing at the District Court in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Yarin Sherf is seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing at the District Court in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The State Attorney’s Office on Friday said it would reassess the decision not to file rape charges against a man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl at a state-run hotel for coronavirus patients.

Acting State Prosecutor Amit Aisman was set to convene an urgent meeting on the matter next week.

The announcement by the State Attorney’s Office followed outrage over the decision to charge Yarin Sherf, 21, with forbidden consensual relations, sexual harassment, making threats, assault and giving an intoxicating drink to a minor, but not rape.

The decision also drew an outcry from activists and as the indictment was filed Thursday at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, demonstrators rallied near the courthouse to show their support for the girl.

People demonstrate support for a 13-year-old girl as Yarin Sherf was indicted for having sex with her, outside the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, March 11, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“I cannot believe I have to say this — I feel like they raped my daughter a second time,” the mother of the young girl said.

“His [crime] is rape, any other interpretation is false,” she added, claiming that “this decision gives the green light and aids the next rape.”

Although under Israeli law, sex with a minor who is below the age of 14 is considered rape, even if consensual, prosecutors shied away from filing the charge because the alleged victim had told Sherf that she was 14.

Prosecutors asked that Sherf be held in custody until the end of the proceedings.

“The respondent took advantage of the power difference between him and the minor, and despite his understanding of her very young age, did not stop his actions until he obtained what he wanted,” said prosecutor Ravit Shafir, who filed the indictment.

Yarin Sherf (Facebook)

The incident comes after several recent high-profile cases involving violence against women in Israel, a trend that has drawn protest demonstrations — one was held Saturday in Tel Aviv — demanding the government take action against the episodes.

Earlier this week three men were arrested for allegedly gang-raping a 16-year-old girl in the north of the country.

In February, a police officer was charged with murder for allegedly shooting his wife dead in the West Bank settlement of Na’ale earlier that month.

Days earlier, a man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the rape and premeditated murder of his former wife’s 12-year-old daughter.

In September last year, 11 men were indicted in the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a hotel in Eilat, in a case that shocked the country and spurred calls for reforms.

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