‘We’ve never seen her,’ say relatives of Lod girl, 5, found tied to shower

‘We’ve never seen her,’ say relatives of Lod girl, 5, found tied to shower

State and girl’s extended family didn’t know of her existence, court hears; parents under investigation for suspected neglect and abuse

Illustrative photo of child abuse. (iStock Getty Images)
Illustrative photo of child abuse. (iStock Getty Images)

The 5-year-old girl found tied to a shower door on Monday in the central Israeli city of Lod was never entered into the national population registry, a police spokesperson told the Lod Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

More details emerged about the case a day after police broke down the door to an apartment where the girl was found tied up and bearing signs of severe, long-term neglect.

The girl’s mother and father, aged 36 and 41, respectively, are both under arrest. The Lod court has extended their remand until Monday, citing the need to prevent them from obstructing the investigation.

Both parents are on their second marriage, family members told Hebrew media on Tuesday. The father has 15 children — 12 with his first wife and three with his current one.

Family members surmised that the girl found on Monday, who was not known to them, may be the mother’s eldest, born during her first marriage.

The apartment building in the central Israeli city of Lod where police found a five-year-old girl tied to a shower on August 12, 2019. (Screen capture Channel 12)

Reached for comment by Channel 12, the father’s brother refused to believe the suspicions against his brother.

“My brother can’t tie down a chicken. He’s never in his life hurt either people or animals. He’s a very sensitive and gentle man,” the brother said. “He cared for his children with great devotion, provided for them and gave them everything they needed. It’s impossible that he abused his daughter. It’s not true. I don’t believe the news reports. I know my brother better than anyone. There’s simply no possible way that he tied his daughter to the shower. That’s just talk.”

But he admitted that he had “never seen the girl. [My brother] and his wife never brought her to our home. Maybe they wanted to hide her because she’s suffering from health problems, I don’t know. We’ve never seen her and don’t know who she is.”

Police were called to the family’s apartment on Monday after neighbors heard persistent crying, and found the girl tied to a shower door.

She was alone in the apartment, police said.

She was rushed to the nearby Assaf Harofeh hospital, where doctors said she was in moderate but stable condition, and would be kept for observation and care.

The entrance to an apartment in Lod where a 5-year-old was found tied to a shower door, August 12, 2019. (Screenshot/Channel 13 news)

The Ynet news site reported that the parents and three other children had gone out of the apartment, leaving the girl behind for an unspecified reason.

A lawyer representing the parents denied they had tied her to the shower door, telling Ynet they had left her sleeping in her bed. the lawyer said the parents were claiming that the girl had been tied up by a burglar who also stole valuables from the apartment while they were out.

They claimed that a neighbor called them a few hours later to say there were shouts coming from their apartment. “They are completely normal parents who would never do what they have been accused of,” the lawyer said.

But at the couple’s remand hearing on Tuesday, a police representative confirmed to the court that officers had found the girl tied in the shower in a pool of her own excrement, and said she had been tied up for several hours by the time they had freed her.

The court was also told by officials that there was no record of the girl in the Interior Ministry’s Population Registry, suggesting that the parents had never notified the state of her birth.

It is not clear if she was enrolled in any educational framework or received health care, both of which require an identity card.

In the hearing, the father denied he had tied the girl up, but admitted to prosecutors’ accusations of neglect, Channel 12 reported.

The mother claimed the girl had suffered from a severe skin disease. She was taken to the West Bank for treatment, the mother’s attorney said, but the treatment only worsened her condition.

The court ordered a forensic medical exam of the girl to ascertain whether and how she was mistreated.

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