The State Prosecutor's Office closed on Monday the cases against two Israeli soccer players who were accused of statutory rape due to lack of guilt.
Former Maccabi Tel Aviv players, Dor Micha and Omer Atzili, who were removed from the team in August, have been investigated for sleeping with two 15-year-old girls. A source involved in the investigation said the girls had concealed the fact that they were under 16, the age of consent.
The players were also suspected of providing alcohol to a minor, but the prosecution didn’t give a reason for closing that case.
The prosecution notified both the players’ lawyers and the girl's families, who had filed the complaint, of its decision. The families were invited to the prosecution’s office in Tel Aviv on Monday to have the decision explained to them in person, but one decided not to come.
Micha, 28, and Atzili, 27, both admitted to sleeping with the girls, but insisted the girls had told them they were 17. The players’ friends said they met the girls at a birthday party for another soccer player and then had sex with them in a Tel Aviv apartment owned by one of the two men. The friends added that the girls were the ones who made the initial approach.
Both players were let go by Maccabi due to the suspicions against them, and each now plays for a different Cypriot team.
After their names were published, Micha wrote, “Even though I was convinced they were 18-year-old adults, I should have been more careful, since I was a well-known figure and a role model for many young men. Therefore, I’m sorry if there are people who were disappointed by my actions. The damage to my image will apparently be with me all my life.”
- Israeli court lifts gag order on names of two soccer players suspected of statutory rape
- Tel Aviv soccer team dismisses two players accused of having sex with minors
- Dozens protest in solidarity with Israeli teens allegedly sexually exploited by soccer players
Atzili added, “I made a moral error. I apologize to every boy or girl who was forced to ask their parents what happened to me and to every parent who was forced to explain. I’ll have to learn to live with this stain for many years to come.”
The suspicions against them become public in June, about a month after the incident occurred. They sought a gag order on their identities, and for the first several weeks, the courts agreed to this request. In July, Central District Court Judge Ido Druyan-Gamlielle said the public had an interest in knowing who they were even if the cases were ultimately closed.