J'lem Teens in Abuse Case Freed to Home Detention

The three teenagers were arrested last week for physically and sexually abusing a classmate over the course of two years, starting when he was 12.

The last of the three suspects in the Jerusalem high school abuse affair have been sent to house arrest by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, despite police objections. The three teenagers were arrested last week for physically and sexually abusing a classmate over the course of two years, starting when he was 12.

Police told the court yesterday they intend to charge the three teens with aggravated assault and sexual assault.

The complainant, now 14 years old, approached the police after opening up to an instructor at an afterschool program. Police believe the teenager was abused on hundreds of occasions, especially by one of the suspects, who is believed to have tied up the boy, put out cigarettes on him, cut him with a knife, beat him and defecated on him. On some of the occasions, the attacker is alleged to have documented the abuse with his mobile phone.

Jerusalem teens Olivier Fitoussi 24/12/10
Olivier Fitoussi

The victim left the school after the abuse had gone on for six months, but it allegedly persisted for another year and a half.

On Friday, the afterschool instructor told a Channel Two news program that the boy's hands were "covered with scars - a cut from a knife here, a burn from a cigarette there."

The remand of the suspected ringleader was extended until Sunday morning, but on Friday, after police submitted their prosecution statement, the judge decided to send the suspect to restricted house arrest until January 2.

Police sources told Haaretz they were disappointed with the decision, especially as the judge refused to keep the suspect in remand while the police lodged an appeal with the district court.

Following the arrests, the principal of the prestigious Jerusalem high school that the suspects attended sent a letter to every student's parents, in which he asked them to speak to their children about the events and take note of any unusual response.

"The school administration wishes to inform you that a former student has suffered very serious abuse," he wrote in the letter. "Some of the abuse took place within the school itself, and some took place off campus. A number of students in our school have been questioned in an attempt to shed more light on the situation, and more students may be questioned or arrested in the future. The school looks gravely on the act and condemns the [perpetrators]."

The letter also detailed steps taken by the school's faculty and administration in the days following the arrest. The teachers are set to hold talks with students on the affair shortly, and to brief them "with up-to-date, reliable information while maintaining the principle of privacy," the letter said. "The school will be attentive to the general mood and act as needed. We will also ensure a return to the normal school schedule."

"More and more details are coming to light every day," one student told Haaretz on condition of anonymity. "Everyone is talking about it and the kid who did it, and how inconceivable it is that he would be involved in something like this."