Actor Sentenced to Seven Years for Rape

Two rape convictions, one act of sodomy and three indecent acts yesterday earned actor Hanan Goldblatt a seven-year prison sentence, after three Tel Aviv District Judges found him guilty of the sex crimes. The actor will also compensate his two rape victims with NIS 25,000 apiece.

During the sentencing pleas, eight witnesses - including several celebrities - testified to Goldblatt's good character. His sister, Tzila Levi, told Haaretz that his incarceration was "a terrible injustice, perpetrated in a disgusting and vulgar manner."

Goldblatt's attorney, Rachel Toran, said that his chances of winning an appeal were good. The District judges, she added, were skeptical about the testimony of one of the plaintiffs.

The judges' sentence stated that "sexual offenses require firm and severe punishment." The court found that the plaintiffs, who had sex with Goldblatt after he told them he would advance their acting career, had suffered an added "trauma" because of the trial itself. "By forcing her to testify, Goldblatt put his victim through a second rape," the sentence read.

The judges also said Goldblatt's final words at the trial were "too little, too late," and that they did not express a full feeling of remorse. The court ruled that the sentence be carried out immediately, and Goldblatt was taken to custody at the Abu Kabir lockup, where he is to remain until prison authorities decide where to incarcerate him.

In July Goldblatt was convicted of two rape incidents, sodomy and three sexual assaults of his young drama students. The actor was accused of abusing his position as a drama teacher to make his students act out sex scenes with him as part of their rehearsals.

In all the cases, he offered to give them private lessons and then made up a story that he wanted to try them out for a fictitious theatrical project and that in each case, the victim was to play a young seductress.

The court gave him 45 days to appeal the conviction and sentence in the Supreme Court, but refused to postpone his imprisonment until the appeal is heard.

"The sexual assaults committed by the defendant were severe in their own right and their severity increases when viewed from the perspective of sexual crimes committed by deceit, by taking advantage of the defendant's own status," wrote the judges, Avraham Tal, Ruth Lebhar-Sharon and Judith Amsterdam.

"When it comes to sexual crimes," the judges went on to write, "we ascribe supreme importance to deterring people with power and authority over those who are subordinate to them, whether it is in the work place, relations between teacher and student or therapists and their patients."

The judges also concluded that Goldblatt was not sincere in his apologies for his acts. "Only in his last address to the court did he say without much conviction that he understood that in certain cases he had acted irresponsibly and that a few of the women were hurt by him... These words came too late and cannot be taken as a full and genuine expression of remorse."