Judge Who Said 'Some Girls Enjoy Rape' Is Resigning His Post

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says move is appropriate, needed to restore public faith in the justice system.

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The Israeli judge who said "some girls enjoy rape" announced on Wednesday that he will leave his judicial post immediately.

The head of the courts administration Judge Michael Spitzer and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced on Wednesday evening that the Judge Emeritus Nissim Yeshaya will leave his post as chairman of an appeals committee.

According to the announcement, made during a meeting Wednesday afternoon with Spitzer, Yeshaya expressed his desire to "immediately conclude his tenure as chairman of the appeals committee."

In addition, a statement released when Livni landed in Washington on Wednesday applauded the judge's decision to leave his post as the right move.

"The judge announced his retirement and this is the right and fitting thing to do in this serious case," said Livni. "Only this way, will the public's faith in the justice system be restored. This wasn't just some expression, but an invalid and twisted perception that women have fought for years, that lays the blame on the rape victim. Such a statement from the mouth of judge may, even if unintentionally, give legitimacy rape to warped minds."

The justice minister added, "Each judge should know that he is viewed, rightly, under a public moral magnifying glass and that he must behave in a manner fitting someone who is responsible for the law and justice and determines the fates of others."

Livni and Supreme Court President Asher Grunis will also seek a decision in the coming days regarding a previous case of a sitting judge accused of abusing his family, following Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision not to file a criminal indictment against him. In his decision, Weinstein wrote that the main consideration for not filing an indictment against the judge was that it would cause mental damage to judge's children, who would have been forced to testify against their father.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on withdrew his support for Yeshaya candidacy for the presidency of the Likud party's court, over a comment he had made earlier this week that some women "enjoy rape."

Netanyahu made the decision after Army Radio revealed the comment in a report Wednesday morning.

Yeshaya, a former district court judge, said this week during a hearing that "there are girls who enjoy rape." Yeshaya made the remark while serving as head of an appeals committee that ruled on an appeal of a teenager, now 19 years' old, who was raped six years ago by four Palestinian youths near the West Bank's Hizma roadblock, close to Jerusalem. The Defense Ministry had decided not to recognize the girl as a victim of terror activity.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni later announced that Yeshaya would be stepping down from all of the official positions he still holds.

The court system in Israel often assigns emeritus judges to sit on appeals committees reviewing Defense Ministry decisions. These hearings are confidential and held behind closed doors.

Netanyahu called the judge's comment "unfortunate" and stated that a person who thinks and expresses himself in such a way would not be fit to serve as the head of the judicial institution of the Likud movement. The leadership elections for party institutions within the Likud party, including president of the party's court, began this week and will run until the end of the month. Now Netanyahu will be forced to find a replacement candidate for the position on a tight timetable.

Attorney Roni Aloni-Sadovnik who represented the appellant before the appeals committee headed by Yeshaya told Army Radio that during an intense moment in the hearing he suddenly said aloud in front of those present, "'There are girls who enjoy rape.'"

Aloni-Sadovnik continued, "Silence fell upon the courtroom. He didn't even understand what he had said. He didn't understand why everyone went quiet." She added that she was sure the judge didn't intend for his comment to be malicious, but that the problem was his apparent prejudice against victims of sexual assault. "We are encountering the tip of the iceberg when judges flub with their words and express what is in their hearts," said Aloni-Sadovnik.

Yeshaya retired from his seat on the Tel Aviv District Court at age 65 in 2009, after 20 years of service in the position. Since retiring from the court, Yeshaya has served as the chairman of the supervision committee for the Likud party chairman elections and was a candidate for the president of the Likud court, which rules on internal party matters.

Yeshaya responded through the court system's spokesman that "this was a hearing that was held as a part of an appeal against a decision by the appeals committee regarding [the application] of the Compensation for Victims of Terror Activity Law. During the hearing, a question was raised regarding the proof of a causal relationship and in the heat of the hearing things were said in this spirit. There was no intention for these words to hurt or disrespect, heaven forbid, rape victims. The judge apologizes for these words."

The Courts Administration itself stated, "The Court Administration will examine the incident and the emeritus judge will be summoned for clarification in the coming days."

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), who serves as chair for the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, rebuked the response provided by the Court Administration. "A judge with such views should not sit in a [position of] judgment for even an hour longer." Lavie also stated that she found the response of the Court Administration, "no less disturbing."

Israel Bar Association chairman, attorney Doron Barzilay, responded as well. "On the face of things, these words sound serious. If the statements mentioned were indeed said, these would indeed be unfortunate statements that would best be said by no man, let alone a judge in the State of Israel." Barzilay added, "We intend to file a complaint against the judge and we expect that Court Administration to deal with this incident to the full extent of the law."

Judge Emeritus Nissim Yeshaya.Credit: David Bachar

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