The Thin Line Between Criminality and Voyeurism

Seven indictments have been submitted in the wake of Channel 10's investigative program exposing pedophiles, and two of the accused already have experienced firsthand: Proof of physical contact is not needed in order to be accused of attempted rape.

Yesterday three indictments were submitted in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court and the Tel Aviv District Court against Eldad Ben Guy, 38, from Ramat Gan, Gil Sayag, 31, from Jerusalem, and another accused, 35, from Jerusalem, whose name has been withheld. Ben Guy is accused of attempted rape and attempted sexual harassment. The other two are accused of attempted indecent acts and attempted sexual harassment.

According to the indictments, the accused conducted blatantly sexual conversations with Channel 10 researchers posing as 13-year-old girls. Some of them committed indecent acts before the women's eyes. Others sent them pornography, and all of them arranged to meet with the researchers in a Tel Aviv apartment. An actress was waiting for them there. After the men spoke with her briefly, the program's moderator, Dov Gilhar, showed up and confronted them. The men were arrested on camera by waiting policemen.

The chair of the Criminal Forum of the Israel Bar Association, attorney Rachel Toren, explains how an indictment for attempted rape is possible under these circumstances: "According to the legal test, an attempted act becomes a crime the moment a person performs the first physical act in the chain of actions leading to committing the crime. For example, he entered the car, entered the apartment, began talking to the victim, equipped himself with the physical means for carrying out the sexual act - this might be considered an attempt."

Regarding the indecent acts and the content of the conversations, she explains that although all the elements of sexual harassment or an indecent act were in place, since there was no real victim, the accused can be indicted only for an attempted crime. The punishment for attempting to commit a crime is identical to the punishment for committing the crime.

"I assume the defense will claim that this was a point when the suspect could have changed his mind," says Toren.

Attorney Zion Amir, who is representing Ben Guy, confirms this.

"When I suggest to you that we rob a bank, it's not certain that a crime has occurred. If we go to buy hats and gloves, that's still not an attempt. I still can change my mind."

Channel 10 once again emphasizes that its researchers did not initiate the conversations, but waited for their interlocutors to seek them out. But Toren explains, "There is a thin line between legitimate enticement and unacceptable incitement to commit a crime."

Regarding the unusual cooperation with the police, she says, "When there is such well-timed cooperation, I'm concerned. The danger is that in order to satisfy an urge for voyeurism, acts will be exposed that are on the borderline of criminality, but are not criminal."