(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
The Haifa District Court on Wednesday convicted Amitai Ashtamker, a resident of
Kiryat Shmona, of sexual offenses including aggravated rape and sodomy
perpetrated against a young woman he met on the Internet.
RELATED:Tel Aviv court releases Katsav rape-trial transcripts 3 teens found guilty of sexual offenses against youth
the charge sheet, 32-year-old Ashtamker met the woman, who was not named, on the
“Mekusharim” social networking site a year ago. He lied to her about his name,
age and profession, claiming that he was a 25- year-old engineering
Ashtamker arranged to meet the woman near her home in Karmiel,
and later drove her to a wooded picnic area, where they drank alcohol and
talked. However, when the woman said she wanted to return home, Ashtamker became
violent, hitting her over the head with a bottle, threatening to disfigure her
face and beat her with a rock. He then raped her.
The attack ended
only when a police car stopped close by and the woman managed to escape and ask
police officers for help.
In the police investigation and in court,
Ashtamker admitted lying about his identity, but denied raping the woman,
claiming that the sex had been consensual and mutually agreed on
In convicting Ashtamker, Judge Yosef Elron wrote that the
plaintiff’s version of events was credible, reliable, compelling and supported
by physical evidence, and that Ashtamker’s testimony was filled with lies and
As an example of his attitude to the investigation and to women
in general, the judges noted that Ashtamker had refused to answer questions put
to him by a female investigator, demanding instead to speak to a male
“You’d have gotten a great investigation if you’d put a
male cop here,” the judges reported Ashtamker as saying.
“I accept the
plaintiff’s story that she made clear to the defendant her objections and lack
of agreement to his actions; but despite this, he decided to continue as if she
were an object,” Judge Elron wrote in his judgement.
The Haifa District
Court is expected to sentence Ashtamker in the next two months.
response to the judgment, Efrat Oren of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers
in Israel cautioned women to take care when getting to know potential dates on
Social networking sites have created new opportunities for
people to meet, but in a way that is detached from any shared social
environment, Oren noted.
“In the past, people mostly got to know each
other in common surroundings, and by meeting in places both people were familiar
However, the Internet has created a sterile social environment
where people get to know each other without intermediaries – and that can
increase the chances of danger,” she added.
Oren added that sexual
violence – including date rape – is a phenomenon that extends far beyond social
networking, and called for educators to help combat the problem.
place to deal with the problem of sexual violence, both on social networks and
in general, is in the schools,” Oren said.
For those seeking aid and
information, the Association of Rape Crisis Center can be reached via its
24-hour hot line at *1202.