Tel Aviv nightclub owner Alon Kastiel, who was convicted of sexual offenses, has been granted an early release from prison. The parole committee made the decision on Monday to release Kastiel, who has served almost four years of his sentence of four years and nine months.
Kastiel, 40, was convicted of sex crimes against four women in a plea bargain and sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court in 2018. The judgement against him says he would every now and again target a new victim, “ignoring her will, her dignity and right to her own body.” He would invade their privacy and cause them serious harm, the judges wrote.
Police began investigating him in November 2016, after the Hottest Place in Hell website reported that he had been kicked out of the Block Club, of which he was part owner, as well as other nightclubs, because women had complained that he sexually assaulted or harassed them. Kastiel denied the allegations.
About a month later, he was arrested and was charged with the rape of two women, several cases of attempted rape and other sexual offenses. Two months after that, the prosecution announced that one of the rape charges was dropped, as it was past the statute of limitations. Kastiel was detained for two months, and during his trial was under house arrest.
Due to the plea bargain, Kastiel's conviction was much less harsh, and included one charge of attempted rape, forced indecent acts, indecent acts and sexual harassment. As part of the plea deal, the rape charge was demoted to attempted rape, and he was convicted of sex crimes against four women rather than five. The indictment did not include all the complaints filed against him with the police – 14 in total. In his 2018 conviction, he expressed remorse for his actions.
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In August 2021, the committee denied Kastiel's first request for an early release, ruling that "the time has not yet come" to shorten his sentence. During his trial, the prosecution had asked for an eight-year jail term. Kastiel's lawyer had suggested 18 months, citing time already spent under house arrest, the damage to him and family and the fact he had confessed to his crimes. In June 2019, the High Court of Justice rejected Kastiel's appeal of the sentence.
Kastiel's attorney Rotem Tubul said that the Parole Committee's decision "is appropriate and meets all of the conditions of the law."
The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel responded to the decision to release Kastiel: "It is one slap too many in the face fo the victims. Kastiel is a serial sexual abuser, a predator who has left a long trail of victims" who has received nothing more than a symbolic sentence.
According to the association, the Parole Committee failed to notify the victims of their decision, and did not give them the opportunity, as per law, to provide their opinions on the matter. "Even today, the media received the announcement of his release two hours before the victims."
The statement continued, "Beyond the terrifying message to the public this decision sends, it causes severe and repeated harm to the women Kastiel hurt, and the fact that the Parole Committee chose to add to their pain is nothing less than a scandal. We urge the prosecution to fulfill its duties as a representative of the public and to appeal this decision."