(photo credit: INIMAGE)
Rabbi David Harrison, aged 58, who taught at the Beit Shulamit religious girls high school in Jerusalem, was arrested on Wednesday on charges of rape and assault against a minor, and detained for seven days.
At the beginning of December, a woman aged 21 filed a complaint of rape and other sexual crimes against the rabbi alleging that they took place over a period of several months when she was aged 14, some six years ago, at the school.
The police began an investigation after the complaint was filed and arrested Harrison on Wednesday.
According to documents from the court hearing on Thursday at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, the alleged sexual assaults took place in the school itself, as many as four times a week.
The suspect is also accused of physically assaulting the woman if she did not listen to his instructions and of intimidating her.
Judge David Shaul Richter said during the hearing that testimony of the relatives of the woman “indicated a change in her behavior at the relevant times,” and said there was sufficient reasons for why the complaint has been made at this time.
Harrison, who has served as an educator and who frequently performs wedding ceremonies, denies the allegations and said in court that he did not even know the woman concerned.
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“There is nothing here, I am busy with my career and with an active life. She says that this happened within the school which is bustling with teachers and pupils and where I did not have a private room,” the rabbi said.
His attorney Yehudah Shushan argued that the rabbi had a temporary job at the school and worked there only twice a week, claiming therefore that the claims that the sexual assaults happened four times a week were not credible.
He added that he was willing to take a polygraph test.
Shushan also pointed out that the rabbi has had a long career in education and had no previous criminal convictions or claims of sexual crimes against him.
Harrison’s attorney also tried to argue that the complainant might have had pre-marital sex with someone else and subsequently sought to explain the absence of her virginity by accusing someone else of rape, saying that such women in the religious world are considered to be ״trash.”
The judge said however that he believed from the investigative findings in front of him that the suspect had committed the crimes he is accused of and that it was possible there is more than one victim.
Richter denied a request that the legal proceedings be conducted behind closed doors and also denied a request to ban the publication of Harrison’s name.
The rabbi will remain in custody until Dec. 14.
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