Israeli Charged With Abusing, Neglecting Her Disabled Son

Ilana Hess, 62, is also accused of taking her son to Cyprus in an effort to obstruct justice

A courtroom at Tel Aviv District Court.
Ilan Assayag

A 62-year-old woman, Ilana Hess of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon, was indicted on Thursday for abuse of her disabled son.

Hess allegedly removed her son from a residential facility in Jaffa without permission before moving with him to Cyprus, where he died last year at the age of 31.

Hess is not charged with causing his death, but is facing charges of abuse and neglect of her son and of taking him to Cyprus in an effort to obstruct justice. The son had been diagnosed with severe mental disabilities that rendered him incapable of caring for himself. He also had epilepsy.

It is not clear what caused her son's death, and although Hess has said he died of a cardiac-related incident, the State Prosecutor's office said she has not produced any documentation supporting the claim. Hess was arrested last year and was extradited to Israel last week.

Among the series of allegations in the indictment, in one incident, Hess is said to have left her son alone in 2015 at a parking lot in Herzliya, where he was lying on his side on the ground with his right leg chained to the front seat of her car. About a week later, after she refused to come with her son to be questioned by the social welfare authorities, police came to her home and found that her son had a fractured arm, according to the charges.

He was later removed from his mother's custody and placed in a residential facility in Jaffa. A guardian was appointed, who consented to visitation rights for the mother including the right to take the son home on alternate weekends as long as he was returned to the Jaffa facility by the following Sunday morning.

In April 2016, Hess picked up her son in Jaffa and despite committing to return him to the facility within three days, she flew with him to Germany and later to Cyprus without informing his guardian, according to the charges.

Under questioning, Hess is said to have claimed that her son was suffering at the Jaffa facility so she decided to take him to another son who lived in Germany. Two months later, they flew to Cyprus, where he died in August of last year.