Yarin Sherf will be charged with rape and not only with having prohibited consensual sexual relations with a minor, in an incident that took place at a hostel used for quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a rare step, the Tel Aviv District prosecutor’s office announced on Thursday that it was changing the charges in the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl last month in a government facility in Jaffa intended for at-risk 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 girl complained that Sherf raped her, but originally prosecutors chose the lesser crime because of a number of questions concerning her consent, and after he said he believed she was 14 – the age of consent, below which such sexual relations would be considered statutory rape.
Sherf was originally charged with two counts of prohibited consensual sex with a minor, one count of sexual harassment, threats, assault and providing an intoxicating beverage to a minor.
After the original indictment was filed, Acting State Prosecutor Amit Aisman asked for a supplementary investigation in the case, during which a children’s investigator met with the girl.
The first time she was questioned, the girl told an investigator that she had not agreed to have sex with Sherf and that he had been violent toward her during the incident. The investigator believed her account was credible, although there were some difficulties regarding the issue of consent.
Prosecutors had doubts about her denial of consent based on the fact that she had opened the door for him and had sent him her photo on Instagram after the incident.
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The choice of a lesser offense evoked sharp protest by the girl’s family and women’s organizations. The girl’s mother and the family’s lawyer, Amit Hadad, said at the time that “this was a case of rape, and any other interpretation is false.”
“The prosecution’s decision gives a green light and legitimizes the next rape,” they added. “We won’t rest until the rapist gets a penalty reflecting the full measure of the law for the grave act he committed.”