The District Court in Jerusalem has sentenced Avraham Leshem (26) to three and a half years in prison after he was convicted six months ago of sexually assaulting a four and a half year-old girl two years ago and fined him 50,000 shekels ($15,000).
Prosecutors had asked initially for a tougher sentence of four to eight years in prison, but according to the sentence, Leshem will be released in just a few months and will not go through a rehabilitation program for sex offenders.
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Leshem, who assaulted the girl two years ago in the yard of a synagogue in Jerusalem, was caught after his DNA matched the DNA extracted from a semen stain found on the girl's dress. Leshem's DNA was in police database due to previous assault.
The girl’s parents as well as residents of the neighborhood where the assault took place protested against an earlier court decision to acquit Leshem of a rape charge.
The judges only allowed a few sentences of their ruling to be released, and in response, Haaretz has submitted a request to disclose more details of the decision. However, Haaretz is yet to receive a response to the request.
“The judges played it safe instead of contending with the girl’s testimony,” her father told Haaretz. “We were silent for two years, no one knows what we went through. The judges should have protected us and they didn’t. After Passover, he [Leshem] will be released from prison. What am I supposed to do?” he added.
“I felt shame and humiliation, I felt that there was no justice in this country. Anyone who hears the testimony can hear a child of four-and-a-half saying clearly that he touched her, putting his fingers inside her. She said she wanted to scream from the pain," the girl's mother attacked the judges' decision on Kan Bet public radio.
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Leshem’s attorney, Liron Malka, said "that prosecutors had erred in their decision to charge my client with [statutory] rape. The prosecution ignored warning signs that had cropped up as this case unfolded.”
Haaretz has found that during the investigation, one of the officers has asked the child investigator if it is possible to complete the investigation in order to consolidate a charge of rape. Out of concerned for the child's well-being, the investigator believed it would be better to wait for the state prosecutors' decision before investigating the child again.
State prosecutors maintained that the girl and mother's testimony were sufficient to establish that the felony in question was rape, and did not ask for further investigations. Throughout the trial, prosecutors thought the girl’s testimony was credible and consistent.
Moreover, the accused had not given his version of the incident and did not contradict the charge of rape. In the course of the trial the judges commented to prosecutor Yuval Kedar that the state prosecution should reconsider the indictment charging Leshem with of rape.
The State Prosecutor’s office said in response: “Prosecutors argued that the girl’s testimony when questioned by the female child investigator, as well as the other evidence in this case, established the felony as rape. Throughout the entire process prosecutors argued that the girl’s testimony was credible and unambiguous. The court decided otherwise, and we’re considering an appeal.”