A Haifa Municipality employee was charged Thursday with operating Telegram groups to distribute tens of thousands of sex photos and videos of Israeli women without their knowledge.
The cybersecurity unit at the State Prosecutor's Office filed an indictment against Ronen Sheikh for sexual abuse and harassment, privacy violations, and advertising of prostitution services.
The indictment states that Sheikh distributed the sexual content along with the women’s personal details, to prove that they were Israelis who were not sex workers and did not consent to his actions.
Some 190 women filed a complaint against Sheikh, reporting depression and anxiety, suicidal thoughts and even attempted suicide as a result of his actions. Some of the women also said that they had left their jobs and found it difficult to find new ones. Almost all the victims reported that they suffered harassment on social media, on their personal cellphones and even on the street. One of the victims reported that she underwent plastic surgery to change her appearance so she would not be harassed in public.
Sheikh was also charged with creating a Telegram channel through which he advertised sex services in return for payments he collected from sex workers. He is also accused of operating a group in which he advertised paid sex services, requests from johns looking for prostitutes and reviews of women working in prostitution.
In addition, he is indicted for using the access his work provided at city hall to copy at least 43 credit card numbers belonging to Haifa residents without their permission.
The prosecution requested the Haifa Magistrate's Court that Sheikh remains in custody until the end of proceedings. Some of the groups created by Sheikh are still active and the materials have not yet been removed, the prosecutors said in their request, arguing that Sheikh may still hold content that could harm his known victims and others.
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Sheikh denied the charges.