A Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday convicted a 36-year-old man of using Internet chat software to make contact with and sexually assault a 13-year-old girl.

According to the court’s findings, Moshe Sarnaga used a false identity, claimed he was only 24 and offered to spend a day with his victim, known only as Alef because of a gag order, at the beach in order to lure her to his home and sexually assault her.

The court decision states that Sarnaga met Alef at a mall on April 13, 2010, telling her he would drive her on his motorcycle to the beach. Instead Sarnaga stopped at his home near the beach and told Alef to come upstairs with him before the beach because he was thirsty.

Once in his home, the Court found that Sarnaga sexually assaulted Alef. The court also convicted Sarnaga of obstruction of justice in telling Alef not to tell anyone about what had occurred and instructing her about how to leave his home in a way that would not arouse suspicion.

The original indictment had alleged that Sarnaga had stripped Alef naked, attempted to rape her and forced her to commit sexual acts on him. The indictment had stated that Sarnaga was interrupted when he received a text message from the girl’s father threatening to send the police after Saranaga if the girl did not immediately make contact with her parents. At this point, Sarnaga released Alef.

Despite the initial charges of multiple counts of attempted rape and sodomy in the indictment, the court convicted Sarnaga of the lesser crimes of a single count of sexual assault with a minor under circumstances of rape and obstruction of justice.

Sarnaga disputed that he did anything wrong, claiming that everything had been consensual. Regarding Alef’s age, Sarnaga testified that he had no idea how old she was and that he had not lied about his age and had only used a different name, which many people innocently do on the Internet.

The court rejected Sarnaga’s version of events and accepted Alef’s version, particularly finding that his claimed ignorance that she was a minor was at best “willfully shutting his eyes” in the face of obvious facts, if not outright perjury.

Also, in his defense, besides the standard arguments, Sarnaga objected that Alef’s father had been highly aggressive in aiding and even interfering with the police’s investigation.

Sarnaga also pointed out that Alef’s father had deleted text and other electronic messages between Alef and Sarnaga which were relevant to the case.

While noting that some of Alef’s father’s conduct was questionable and that no evidence should have been deleted, the court ultimately found that none of the described conduct interfered with Sarnaga’s defense and that none of the deleted evidence would have helped him prove his innocence.

Finally, Sarnaga argued that Alef’s friends had not been properly investigated regarding what she told them about the incident.

The court concluded that any missing evidence regarding Alef’s friends was at best hearsay, and statements by persons who were not actually present during the incident had no direct knowledge that would change the court’s conclusions.

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