'This is not a deterrent, it is not a punishment'

Teen gets 5 years for sexual assault of 10-year-old in her bed during burglary

Victim’s father angry at leniency of sentencing for attack that shocked nation last year, says family only agreed to plea deal to keep girl from having to testify in court

Illustrative: The Beersheba District Court in southern Israel, on December 1, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: The Beersheba District Court in southern Israel, on December 1, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A teenager was sentenced to five years in jail on Wednesday for the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl in her bed during the burglary of a family home in the southern Negev region last year.

The attacker will also pay NIS 70,000 (approximately $19,500) in compensation.

The sentencing was part of a plea agreement in which the perpetrator admitted to an indecent act on a minor, breaking into a residence and attempted sodomy.

The girl’s father expressed anger at the lenient sentence, saying the family had agreed to a plea deal to spare the child the trauma of testifying in court and undergoing questioning by lawyers.

“As is customary, Israeli judges have had mercy on the perpetrator rather than the victim of the crime. Half of the sentencing [dealt with] reasons why [the punishment] should be eased,” the father told the Kan public broadcaster.

“In the end, [the judge] sentenced him to five years. Of that, I don’t know how long he’ll serve — it will be reduced for good behavior and the case will disappear. This is not a deterrent, it is not a punishment. I feel humiliated,” he said.

Prosecutors had asked the Beersheba District Youth Court for a sentence of at least seven years.

The girl’s father told the Ynet news site that his daughter’s attacker entered the courtroom with a smile on his face.

“I haven’t told her about this. She didn’t know there was a trial, we wanted her to think he was already behind bars,” he said.

The perpetrator, aged 17 at the time of the attack last year, along with another person, aged 16, entered the home in a community of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council late at night as the family slept. A third suspect, 21, waited outside in a car.

The two minors, from the Bedouin community of Neve Midbar, searched for valuables and entered a bedroom that the girl shared with her younger brothers, according to the indictment presented to the court.

Prosecutors said the suspect got into bed with the girl and began kissing and licking her face. When she protested, he sexually assaulted her.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, while the perpetrator admitted only to attempted sodomy as part of the plea deal, the girl testified that the assault did take place.

The girl cried out for her father and the two burglars ran away as they were chased outside. The group then escaped in the waiting vehicle.

The assault sparked protests in the south from residents, who demanded the government do more to curb a wave of crime in the region that they largely blame on gangs from nearby Bedouin communities.

Hundreds of residents of the Negev demonstrated, including members of the Bedouin community, demanding that the government restore security to the region.

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