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State appeals release of sex offender nightclub owner: ‘Significant risk to victims’

Prosecutors say decision to free Alon Kastiel ‘drastically deviates from bounds of reasonableness’; he was convicted of assaulting 4 women, many more filed police complaints

Real estate promoter and Tel Aviv nightlife figure Alon Kastiel arrives at the Hermon Prison in the northern part of Israel to begin serving his sentence for sex offenses, August 26, 2018. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)
Real estate promoter and Tel Aviv nightlife figure Alon Kastiel arrives at the Hermon Prison in the northern part of Israel to begin serving his sentence for sex offenses, August 26, 2018. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Prosecutors filed a petition on Wednesday against the decision by a prison parole board to grant early release to sex offender Alon Kastiel, saying insufficient consideration had been given to the risk his release would pose to his victims.

The decision to release Kastiel “drastically deviates from the bounds of reasonableness,” prosecutors from the Northern District Attorney’s Office said in the appeal submitted to the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court.

“It has been clearly proven that Kastiel’s early release will pose a very significant risk to the victims, their mental health and their rehabilitation process,” the petition read.

“This is not an abstract claim or legal interpretation, but a proven and apparent reality. In these circumstances, it is clear that if this had been considered, Kastiel’s request for early release would have been rejected,” prosecutors said.

In July 2018, Kastiel was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison as part of a plea deal in which he confessed to committing sexual offenses against four women.

Over a dozen women had filed police complaints against Kastiel, including for rape. He was eventually convicted of one charge of attempted rape, forced indecent acts, indecent acts and sexual harassment.

Protesters demonstrate against the early release from prison of Alon Kastiel, at the Tzalmon Prison, June 27, 2022 (David Cohen/Flash90)

In one case, Kastiel admitted to attempting to force a woman to engage in sexual relations with him in the back room of one of his clubs, despite her repeated protestations. She eventually managed to run off.

In another, he forcibly carried out “indecent acts” against a woman at another club. In two other cases, Kastiel attempted to forcibly kiss a woman and placed his hands on a woman’s breasts.

Last week a prison parole board agreed to grant an early release to Kastiel, despite strenuous efforts by state prosecutors and by his victims to prevent the panel from shortening his sentence.

Under the board’s ruling, Kastiel would be released shortly on the condition that he stay outside Tel Aviv — the city where he committed his crimes and where some of his victims still live or work. The exact date would be decided once a clear plan for his release had been drawn up and agreed upon, the board said in its decision.

The board said its decision to bar Kastiel from Tel Aviv was made out of sensitivity to the victims’ “fears that they will meet the inmate on the streets of the city.”

The board approached all four victims in whose cases Kastiel was found guilty, but only two appeared before the panel. One had appeared before the board during Kastiel’s first hearing and said she did not want to do so again, and the other could not be reached.

During the hearing, two of his victims “expressed strenuous opposition to his early release and stressed the ongoing harm that he caused them and that will stay with them for a long time, even after the prisoner’s [scheduled] release,” the board said.

One board member dissented and opposed Kastiel’s release on the grounds that the victims’ fears ought to be the deciding factor. State prosecutors also objected to Kastiel’s release.

Alon Kastiel at the Tel Aviv District court on July 23, 2018. (Flash90)

“I’ve been in a prison ever since he attacked me. He’s been in prison for only three years and even the ridiculous sentence that he received — four years and nine months — he wants to shorten. I’ve been in a prison for seven years, since the day of the attack,” one of the victims, Ofri Yahav, told the board.

“I’m afraid to walk around Tel Aviv. I never had children because I’m afraid I’ll have a daughter who will — heaven forbid — be forced to go through what I went through. He’s asking for mercy because he received a shortened sentence and now he wants to get out even earlier? I want him to sit here for those miserable nine months just so I can continue to rehabilitate my life,” she said.

In its ruling, the panel noted that Kastiel had completed a treatment plan in prison and that a joint Health Ministry-Welfare Ministry committee had determined that his “danger level” was estimated to be “low.”

The parole board also said that it believed Kastiel would be better served continuing his treatment, which he can no longer receive in prison.

The plea deal did not include a specific agreement on the sentence. At the time of sentencing, the prosecution had requested eight years behind bars, while his lawyer asked for 18 months.

Kastiel was also ordered to compensate each of the women he was convicted of assaulting with sums ranging from NIS 15,000 (approximately $4,470) to NIS 50,000 ($14,900).

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, which assisted the victims, called the board’s ruling last week “disappointing and outrageous,” noting what it described as a light sentence for Kastiel despite the severity of his crimes as part of the plea deal.

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