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Tel Aviv teen suspected of sexual assault of other students to be charged with rape

Police reportedly have evidence for three charges of rape and another three counts of indecent acts; remand of suspect, 15, who denies accusations, extended for five days

Illustration of an empty classroom in a school in Mevaseret Zion, August 27, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative image of an empty classroom in a school, August 27, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A 15-year-old student at an elite high school in Tel Aviv who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of a series of sexual assaults against female students is to be charged with rape, according to Hebrew media reports Sunday.

Prosecutors said that they intend to bring an indictment of serious charges against the teen, who denies all the accusations against him.

Police have enough evidence for three charges of rape and another three of indecent acts, Channel 13 News reported.

The suspect, who cannot be named in the media due to his age, claims everything that happened was consensual.

Police asked for his remand to be extended by five days during which time the indictment will be filed.

An undercover investigation into the accusations was brought to an abrupt end after the suspect got wind of the developments and had tried, through mutual friends, to persuade his accusers to drop the matter, Channel 13 said. The police instead quickly arrested him.

Last week police arranged a confrontation between the suspect and two of his alleged victims, Channel 12 News reported.

Sources said that the two girls presented strong evidence to back up their claims, according to the station said.

Police arrested the suspect after two days of media coverage about the case, which was first reported by the 103FM radio station.

Police reportedly received at least six complaints against the suspect, the most recent of them earlier this month. Investigators believed there were several other incidents regarding which they had yet to receive complaints, according to reports at the time.

Victims were said to have come from three schools, although none of the incidents happened on campus. At least one of the victims is reportedly from the suspect’s school.

Many other details of the case are covered by a gag order issued by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.

One incident occurred last January and police are investigating whether school staff was aware of what happened.

The suspect had transferred from another school after a previous accusation of rape that was not reported to police nor disclosed to the new school he moved to. According to some reports, staff at the first school were also unaware of the accusation, though he had also previously had issues with alcohol and smoking at school.

The alleged rape at the first school came to light only after a female student shared her experience with a teacher. She was apparently prompted to do so after recently hearing of other alleged assaults by the student.

Another incident was said to involve an assault at an alcohol-fueled party in a private home two weeks ago, a few days before Hanukkah. A complaint regarding that incident was filed with the police, leading to the opening of an undercover investigation.

During the previous school year, 4,653 students were sexually assaulted, with over 2,000 of those acts committed by other students, according to Channel 13 news. At least 163 of those cases were classified as rape.

Earlier this month, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton announced a program that aims to tackle violence in schools. The Education Ministry has allocated around NIS 438 million to the program, of which about NIS 30 million will go toward counseling in elementary and middle schools.

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