A government worker who says she witnessed the gang rape of a mentally ill young woman on a Tel Aviv beach in broad daylight insists that police never responded to her report of the incident, while police say they responded and saw nothing.
The ongoing sexual activity on Bograshov Beach that N. described to Haaretz was similarly described by employees of a nearby restaurant, though none of the employees thought to call police, as N. did.
Police say they sent a patrol car to the area but the two policeman saw nothing. N. says no policemen ever showed up.
Following media reports of the incident on Tuesday, Tel Aviv District Police have opened an investigation into the incident, as well as into police conduct over the incident. Police have asked witnesses who were on the beach at the time to come forward.
Complicating the story is the fact that although calls to the 100 police emergency number are routinely recorded, police say a malfunction apparently occurred that resulted in N.'s call not being taped.
The incident occurred two weeks ago, when N., a Jerusalem resident who works in the State Prosecutor's Office, took a day off and went with a friend to Tel Aviv. At about 1 P.M., the two went to Bograshov Beach, where they lay down to catch some rays near the lifeguard station, which was unoccupied, since the swimming season hasn't opened yet.
At some point, N. and her friend noticed a circle of people who had gathered not far from them. They were mostly men and a few young women, who seemed to be applauding and cheering something going on inside the circle.
After a few minutes, a young woman and one of the men came out of the circle and walked toward the water. As they got a bit closer, N. noticed that the woman was wearing a blouse and a jacket, but was naked from the waist down. Within seconds, N. saw the two have intercourse right on the shore, with everyone in the vicinity looking on. They then got up and went back to the circle.
N. decided to find out what was going on and she and her friend moved their towels closer to the circle.
"There were teenagers and older men there, I'd guess they were between 17 and 30," N. told Haaretz. "After those two came back to the circle, other men started stroking the girl and convinced her to remain. Each one, after speaking to her for a couple of minutes, proceeded to have sex with her within the circle."
At a later stage, she said, some of the men started shouting, "Anyone who wants oral sex can pay a shekel and get in line."
"People who were around didn't want to get involved, apparently because it looked like the girl was agreeing to it," N. said. "At no point did she scream; she was actually laughing the whole time. But I wanted to put a stop to it."
She approached the men in the circle and started to tell them off.
"I tried to talk the girl into leaving, but she started screaming at me, and said 'I'm a free woman, I'll do what I want with my body.' She was very aggressive and I didn't want to start up with her."
But from the short conversation N. had with her, it was clear that the woman was mentally disturbed. Being familiar with the law, N. knew that this could turn what on the surface seemed like consensual sex into the gang rape of a helpless person.
"They all knew there was something wrong with her," N. said. They said, "what do you care if we have a little fun?"
Shortly after 3 P.M., N. called 100 to report the incident. "I didn't tell the operator that it was rape, because it still wasn't clear what was going on, but I told her that there's a woman on Bograshov Beach having sex with a lot of men on the beach. I figured she'd understand it was rape from the way I described it."
To her shock, the operator seemed undecisive. "She asked me where Bograshov Beach is, she didn't know. I waited a couple of minutes on the line for her and she said that she had no patrol car available, but she'd see if she could send someone."
Since N.'s report was not recorded, there is no way to judge the operator's performance or exactly what was in N.'s report.
Tel Aviv District Police, however, say that within four minutes of N.'s call, two officers arrived at the beach. They reported that they came to the lifeguard station area but didn't see anything.
N. says she remained on the beach, near the same group of people until 4:30 and never saw any policemen.
"The fact that they say they came is at least proof that they got a report," said N. "But during the time those policemen claim they were at the scene, the girl was still walking around half naked, having sex with those guys, and it isn't clear how the policemen who claim to have been there didn't see it."
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