New court rulings could have ramifications in Israel..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Rabbi David Harrison, an educator and wedding officiant, has had all charges against him dropped by the State Attorney’s Office in the Jerusalem District for alleged involvement in sex offenses against a minor.
Harrison was indicted in December 2016 on charges of multiple counts of rape against a female pupil at the Jerusalem school he taught at – the pupil was 14 at the time of the alleged incidents.
While the State Attorney’s Office initially believed that it had a strong case against the rabbi, it said in a statement last week that “developments had taken place [regarding] complainant’s version of events, which required a reassessment of all the evidence in the case.”
The State Attorney’s Office then reviewed all the evidence, spoke and met with the complainant and ultimately canceled the indictment, with the complainant filing a statement to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court retracting her allegations against the rabbi.
In an emotional phone call to Harrison broadcast later on Channel 2 News, his lawyer told him that the charges had been dropped and that he had been cleared, and also spoke with his wife.
“I never believed I would have this phone call,” said the lawyer, as Harrison’s wife told her she was crying and trembling.
“You can call all your family, to the children, the grandchildren, everyone, and tell them their father is not only innocent, he is pure as snow,” said the lawyer who herself started crying.
Speaking to Israel Hayom, Harrison said he had been through very tough times, having first been in prison for 34 days and then under house arrest. He said, however, that his wife and several good friends always stood by his side and supported him, and that they never believed the allegations.
Harrison said he did not know the motivation of the woman who made the charges, which were filed in 2016 – six years after she claimed they happened.
Harrison said that he had never taught her or spoken to her. However, he said that from the case material, he believed she had psychological disorders.
He was strongly critical of the State Attorney’s Office, accusing investigators of trying to get “results” because the case had reached the media.
“The investigators fixed their position after they interviewed the complainant, everything that strengthened their position they took and everything that proved otherwise they cast aside,” Harrison said.
The rabbi was also critical of the statement put out by the State Attorney’s Office, which he said was dishonest.
“After a thorough and comprehensive review of the material including conversations and a meeting with the complainant, The State Attorney’s Office reached the conclusion that the evidence in the case does not establish a reasonable chance of convicting the defendant at the level required in criminal proceedings,” it read.
Said Harrison: “This [statement] gives the impression that something happened but it cannot be proven – this is deceptive. It would have been worthwhile for them to use words such as ‘we made a mistake’ and ‘sorry.’ A terrible injustice has been done to me. I am clean of all stain on my reputation.”
The State Attorney’s Office said that it does everything it can to prosecute cases of alleged sex offenses and abuse, but acknowledging that the “fight against this severe phenomenon does not exempt the State Attorney’s Office from examining the entire case while preserving its professional standards it is obligated to and the fairness of criminal proceedings.”