Haredi man indicted for sexually harassing soldier

By
December 29, 2011 15:56

Shlomo Fuchs allegedly called woman a "whore" on a Jerusalem bus; released on bail to attend yeshiva.

3 minute read.



female mehadrin bus line

female haredi bus line mehadrin_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)

The police filed an indictment on Thursday against a haredi resident of Jerusalem, charging him with sexual harassment and unruly misconduct in a public place after he allegedly shouted sexual slurs at a female soldier.

Shlomo Fuchs, 44, was arrested on Wednesday after allegedly attacking the 18-year-old soldier as she traveled on the No. 49 bus in the capital.

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According to the indictment, which was filed in the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court, Fuchs told the soldier to go to the back of the bus, saying that that was the appropriate place for women.

When the soldier refused, Fuchs then allegedly verbally attacked her, yelling, “Whore, whore, whore, you have no respect, you are standing between yeshiva students, it’s shameful!” The indictment charges that Fuchs continued to shout in this manner, attempting to intimidate the soldier, until she burst into tears. After the incident, the soldier filed a police complaint.

Fuchs was brought before the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning for a remand hearing.

Judge Eilata Ziskind ruled to release Fuchs on bail, but only under certain strict conditions. Fuchs is allowed to attend his yeshiva, but then must return home and remain there overnight. He has also been forbidden from traveling on public transport and was ordered to pay a bail bond of NIS 20,000.

During the hearing, Fuch’s lawyer, attorney Yair Nehorai, argued that the charge of sexual harassment could not be made against Fuchs, because sexual harassment meant the harasser wanted something sexual from the victim.

“On the contrary, he did not want to be near her,” said Nehorai. “It’s the opposite of sexual harassment.”

Nehorai – who represents several haredi clients including Beit Shemesh resident Menahem Manes Simon, who was arrested last week for allegedly spitting on a woman – argued that Fuchs had tried to force gender segregation on the bus according to the general consensus of the men present.

Fuchs, Nehorai argued, had merely accused the soldier of behaving like a ‘whore.’ However, Judge Ziskind said that there was prima facie evidence that Fuchs had committed an offense, adding that there was no real dispute about the facts, only their interpretation.

The judge referred to the law on sexual harassment, which does not require that a harasser wants sex from a victim and includes making ‘humiliating reference toward a person based on gender or sexuality, including sexual orientation.’ The epithet ‘whore’ had been applied to the soldier solely because she was a woman, and in a manner that was humiliating, and therefore the law against sexual harassment applies in this case, the judge said.

“In light of the increasing phenomenon of segregating women and of harming those who do object to such segregation, I think there is a danger that when this is carried out by force, it injures democratic society,” said Judge Ziskind, who also referred to a High Court of Justice ruling against forced gender-based segregation on public transport.

Fuchs’ indictment comes after the authorities issued a strict warning earlier this week that violence against women, including public exclusion, will not be tolerated.

On Wednesday, state prosecutor Moshe Lador said, in reference to recent haredi violence in Beit Shemesh, that his office would work with the police to stamp out extremism.

On Thursday afternoon, attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein convened a special meeting, at the request of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to discuss legal measures for combating the increasing phenomenon of violence against women.

State prosecutor Moshe Lador and his deputy Yehoshua Lamberger, as well as officials from the legislative and High Court departments of the State Attorney’s Office, participated in the session.

As a result of the meeting, Weinstein said he would establish a team in the Justice Ministry for formulating criminal, administrative and legislative recommendations.

The attorney-general also said he intended to hold talks with law enforcement authorities on the issue.

During the meeting, Weinstein dubbed the exclusion of women, as well as physical and verbal violence against women, a “phenomenon” and said the state must combat it.

The attorney-general added that there are social, cultural and legal aspects to the phenomenon, and that state authorities must use legal tools, both at the criminal and administrative levels, to combat it.

However, Weinstein said that great care must be taken not to interfere with the lifestyles of the haredi community when there is no violation of the law.


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