Suspect in Tel Aviv Pedophile Case Ran Child Prostitution Ring

Suspect pimped youths to pedophiles for NIS 200 at a time, according to a police source.

The primary suspect in a pedophile case exposed by police last week allegedly ran a children's prostitution ring, providing children for the other suspects embroiled in the case, police said Monday.

Police arrested a group of men last week on suspicion of sexually abusing a minor they met via the Internet. The suspects, who allegedly abused several other minors, include a senior Internet executive, a sports coach and a well-known attorney, Ari Shamai, whose name was released for publication Monday.

Shamai, who once defended Rabin assassin Yigal Amir and former minister Gonen Segev, was arrested in the home of one of the suspects and police at first said he was suspected of abusing a minor in the apartment. Later, police cleared Shamai of suspicion regarding child abuse and said he was only suspected of drug-related offenses.

Tuesday the police will ask the Tel Aviv District Court to rescind the gag order on the names of the nine suspects who allegedly had sexual intercourse with the principle victim. The attorneys of five suspects whose names have been released for publication will appeal to the court to uphold the gag order.

Police said Monday that the main suspect used to stalk children and youths near clubs in Tel Aviv, such as the TLV club at the Tel Aviv Port. When he detected youths with sexual-identity issues he, "took them under his wing" and turned them into prostitutes, a police source said, on the basis of gathered testimonies.

He pimped the youths to pedophiles for NIS 200 at a time, the source said.

The police Monday confronted the Internet executive and the principle victim in the case, who turned 17 Tuesday. Another minor, 14, told the detectives that the executive had been sexually abusing him since he was 12 years old.

The latter was prompted to complain to the police by the case's exposure last week. He told the police that the suspect used to pick him up every weekend, take him home and sodomize him.

Shamai's attorney, Avi Himi, asked to release his client's name so Shamai could disassociate himself from the suspects involved in the ring.

"I'm glad the police said I'm not suspected of any sexual offense, and never was, as I claimed all the time. I'm convinced that they will reach the same conclusion regarding the drug offense," Shamai told Haaretz Monday.

Shamai is known as a provocative figure. About 10 months ago he was attacked by two thugs and beaten with clubs on his way to host a radio program. No one has been arrested yet.

"We're glad the cloud has been lifted off Shamai," Himi said. "We said all along that he had nothing to do with that minor and the sexual offenses and I'm glad the police has confirmed that."

Police told the court last week that the sports coach is suspected of twice sodomizing the principle victim when the latter was under 16, of committing an indecent act and of threatening the minor.