A middle school teacher in Tel Aviv was indicted Monday for allegedly raping a 12-year-old student along with other sexual offenses.
A gag order barred publication of most of the details of the indictment against Yotam Okon, and it was not clear whether the rape victim was one of his sixth-grade students. The name of the school was also not revealed.
Okon carried out the offenses over a period of several months and was arrested last month after police corroborated the testimony against him, the indictment said.
The story came to light when one of the mothers at the Tel Aviv school came across a WhatsApp conversation Okon was having with her daughter in which the teacher asked the student to perform indecent acts, received explicit pictures from her and invited her to his home, the Ynet news site reported.
In addition to complaints that were then filed to police, several students at the school came forward on TikTok with stories about how Okon acted inappropriately around them.
Those allegations were made in response to a video posted to TikTok by 17-year-old Maya Landau last month. In it, she said “the teacher who gave me ‘special’ treatment in ninth grade has finally been arrested. If there is anyone else who went through something similar with him, please send me a direct message and we will go together to testify.”
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Landau’s video garnered many responses from young girls corroborating her story, including one from a girl who said: “All the time, he would grab my belly fat and comment that my shirt was too short. Thank God he’s been arrested.”
“I saw a lot of such things that happened mostly with my girlfriends that he gave ‘special’ treatment to and behaved strangely and disturbingly,” another girl responded.
Speaking to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily last week, Landau recalled how Okon took advantage of her several years ago. “I was 14, a little lost, still a teenager. Yotam saw it as an opportunity.”
According to Channel 13, Okon was fired from his job five months earlier, evidently due to similar allegations against him. However, the Education Ministry failed to pass along the relevant information to the police and the probe was only opened when several of the girls filed police complaints of their own.
The school principal was recently questioned by police, and the victim’s mother has also testified.