Religious Teacher Jailed for 23 Years for Sexually Assaulting 10 of His Students

A 30-year-old Psalms instructor from Jaffa was sentenced yesterday to 23 years in prison for sexually assaulting 10 children aged 8 to 13 who were under his care. He must also pay compensation totaling NIS 100,000.

The Tel Aviv District Court also handed down a two-year suspended sentence for sodomy and indecent acts.

"People like this need to be kept away from society, and for a long time, so that they don't, God forbid, harm the helpless again," the court said.

It said the instructor exploited his position to carry out the "ugly, despicable, contemptible, grave" acts against helpless children "who were forced to be humiliated, to experience serious degradation and to keep their secret from their parents."

The court rejected the instructor's request for a gag order banning publication of his name, but ordered a three-day delay in publication to allow for an appeal.

The judges rejected the defense attorney's request for a reduced sentence, saying that his lack of a criminal record and his contrition for his actions were not sufficient to cut his jail time. The defense attorney also said his client was suffering from suicidal thoughts and had attempted to kill himself while in custody.

All the same, the court did not hand down the maximum 25-year sentence, as the prosecution had requested. It said it hoped to leave a glimmer of light that could "constitute motivation to receive treatment in jail and provide hope for his rehabilitation."

The court said it recognized the effect the offenses could have on the victims, saying that although it received reports of only two victims requiring psychological treatment, it does not need expert opinions to know that the children have been severely damaged.