The police arrested a 21-year-old man on Wednesday over suspicions that he raped a 13-year-old girl in a government facility in Jaffa intended for young people who are sick with the coronavirus and do not live with their families or are under the care of the Social Services Ministry.
The police said they opened an investigation after they received the report about the alleged rape. Both the girl, who lives in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, and the man, a resident of southern Israel, were coronavirus patients.
The facility is meant to give young people who have contracted COVID-19 a place to self-isolate, and has separate living areas for male and female residents. It is managed and supervised by staff on behalf of the Social Services Ministry. The police are now investigating where the staff were at the time of the incident.
Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court decided on Thursday to keep the suspect in detention for five more days. During the hearing, the suspect, who is cooperating with the police, did not deny having sex with the girl, but said that she had given her consent.
“The suspect contacted the minor even though she asked him not to come up [to her room],” said the police representative in court. The police said the man is also suspected of hitting the girl while he raped her.
The girl will be questioned by a female youth investigator.
The suspect’s attorney, Hagit Rachmani of the Public Defender’s Office, claimed that it was the girl who contacted him via Instagram and introduced herself as a 16-year-old. She added that it was only during the police investigation that the girl revealed her real age.
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According to the suspect, it was the girl who invited him to her room after they became friendly, and at no point did she tell him to stop or that she wasn’t interested in him. Rachmani said that the suspect has no record of violence or sexual offenses.
The Social Services Ministry responded: “The treatment staff in the hostel intervened in real time and reported [the incident] to the police immediately. The girl is being treated closely by the welfare staff. Because the incident is under investigation, we cannot provide any further details.”