Victims outraged as Tel Aviv serial sex offender gets early release from jail

As parole board decides to free Alon Kastiel months before end of a term already seen by many as insufficient for his crimes, women he assaulted fear he’s still a danger

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)

Women who were assaulted by a serial sex offender in Tel Aviv expressed their outrage and disappointment at the justice system on Tuesday, a day after Alon Kastiel was granted early release from prison.

Kastiel, 40, a nightclub owner, was sentenced to four years and nine months in 2018 in a plea bargain that saw him confess to sexual offenses against four women.

Though over a dozen women had filed police complaints, including of rape, he was eventually convicted of one charge of attempted rape, forced indecent acts, indecent acts and sexual harassment.

A prison parole board decided Monday to cut short his remaining sentence. It was his second attempt at an early release after being refused in 2021. In 2019 the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against his sentence.

Kastiel’s actual release was delayed for a week at the request of prosecutors but the state is not expected to appeal against the parole, the Ynet news site reported.

One of the women assaulted by Kastiel said she had heard about the early parole from media reports.

“I feel as though #MeToo has not yet reached the justice system,” said Ofri Yahav, referring to the international ground roots movement encouraging women to speak up about sexual assault.

“What outrages me is that he got leniency in the first place,” she said. She noted that though many women had filed police complaints, only four were of those included in the eventual indictment, and then a plea bargain was struck.

“Now he is being released after he didn’t even serve the quite-short sentence he got,” she told the Ynet news site.

Women protest sexual assault laws in Tel Aviv, March 12, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

Whereas ahead of Kastiel’s first bid for early release she was given the opportunity to send a letter to the parole board — though not speak to it directly — this time around she heard nothing from the Prisons Service.

“I didn’t speak with anyone, and no one spoke to me, even though I was one of the victims in the indictment,” Yahav said.

“It bothers me” that Kastiel will be set free, she said. “I am really scared that other women will be harmed by him.”

She said she has never received an apology or acceptance of responsibility from Kastiel.

Shari Golan, another victim, also said that she believed Kastiel still posed a danger.

“I think that when he returns to the outside world there will be many women who should be afraid,” she said.

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

Michal Levit, an alleged victim who never filed a complaint with police, told Ynet that she felt “a combination of fear and unfairness in the face of the incompetence of the system.”

“What makes them think that he won’t do it again if he did it so many times in the past?” she asked. “It feels a bit like a horror movie in which the evil person is brought back to life, gets up out of the ground and goes back to doing what he did.”

Defense attorney Rotem Tubul said in a statement that Kastiel had expressed great regret for his crimes, taken responsibility for them, and undergone a lengthy rehabilitation,” according to Hebrew-language reports.

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel said in a statement Monday that Kastiel’s parole is “one slap too many in the face of the victims.”

It urged prosecutors to appeal the decision and said it “is nothing less than a scandal” that the parole board did not give Kastiel’s victims the opportunity to weigh in on granting him release, as is required.

“Beyond the terrifying message to the public this decision sends, it causes severe and repeated harm to the women Kastiel hurt,” the statement said.

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.

The plea deal did not include an 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).

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