Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of an ultra-Orthodox couple from Ashdod on Monday after they were arrested the day before on suspicion that the father raped his stepdaughter for 15 years, leading to the birth of a son.
A gag order has been imposed on the case, so names and details cannot be disclosed. However, the father confirmed that the son was the couple’s biological offspring, but said relations with his stepdaughter had been consensual and had taken place when she was an adult.
The plaintiff, now 31, filed a complaint with Ashdod police last Thursday, saying she had been raped by her stepfather for 15 years, starting when she was 11. She claimed that her biological mother, who is married to her stepfather, knew of the sexual abuse and rape but did nothing to prevent it.
The plaintiff is now raising an 8-year-old boy and the police are preparing to conduct paternity tests in order to verify her claims. A police source told Haaretz that preliminary investigations show there is a factual basis to the complaint. He added that the parents had become Orthodox in recent years.
The father’s attorney, Yechiel Lamash, told Haaretz that the sexual relations had been consensual and taken place only after the stepdaughter reached adulthood. “This is supported by the fact that the boy is now 8 and she is 31, meaning she gave birth when she was 23.”
Lamash said that at one point the plaintiff was interested in having another child, but the father had refused due to personal and financial considerations.
The husband and wife have been living in a modest apartment in Ashdod for the last several years. It appears they did not integrate into the neighborhood and most neighbors did not know the couple. A neighbor from a different block, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was surprised to hear about the complaint, and that the nature of the relationship between the father and stepdaughter was well known. “The father had two wives – his wife and the daughter,” said the neighbor. “The girl lived here with them for years and left only recently,” he added.
Lamash confirmed this and said that “they all lived together until three weeks ago, and everything was idyllic. Shocking and unreal, but idyllic and legal. You can live with someone and marry someone, and have different combinations. People swap partners in this country, and in this case it’s not a problem.”
He said that the plaintiff got married three weeks ago and had taken the child with her. “When the father visited he got angry, since the boy looked neglected and sometimes she wouldn’t let him see the boy. That’s where the conflict started, and that’s what drove her to file the complaint,” added Lamash.