(photo credit: DANI MARON/MAARIV)
The government on Sunday took the unusual move of appealing a second level to the Supreme Court to stiffen the lenient sentence of former deputy police commissioner Nissim Mor.
The high-profile case has taken on even greater importance in the current atmosphere of weekly revelations of new sexual-harassment scandals.
Mor was sentenced in April to a NIS 30,000 fine and 400 hours of community service for sexual harassment and breach of public trust, but with no finding of moral turpitude.
The state requested a finding of moral turpitude, without which it said Mor would be viewed less as a criminal and more as a project for rehabilitation.
In its appeal, the state said that a stiffer sentence was imperative to save the public’s faith in the police and in public servants in general.
The government said it was crucial to fix “the corrupting message that was sent to victims, potential victims, Israeli policewomen, all Israeli police persons, public servants and the general public. The correct message is needed to rehabilitate the public’s faith in the police.”
Moreover, the state noted that the current negative phenomenon of sexual harassment has flooded the headlines. It said that the battle over how society views the situation is still an open question, and that it is vital to draw a line in the sand against it.
Mor, once second-in-command of the Israel Police, was charged by the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigations Department in July 2016 with sexually harassing a particular policewoman intensely and with generally harassing many other female officers.
According to the indictment, he told lower-ranking female officers that he could advance their careers, in an effort to get them to interact with him in a sexual manner. He also sent them sexually charged text messages, made sexually charged comments and met with them outside of work hours in ways that were not appropriate considering his position as their direct or indirect superior officer.
The state added in its appeal that Mor’s high rank made it even more important to send a clear public message about the severity of sexual harassment.
Mor was originally sentenced by the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court, but the state appealed the light sentence to the Beersheba District Court.
When the District Court rejected the state’s appeal – in a split decision – the expectation was that the case was wrapped up since there is a right to appeal only one level up within the court system.
So it is highly unusual for the state to attempt a second-level appeal to the Supreme Court. Not only can the court decide to not even hear the appeal, but it is extremely unlikely that the court would reverse both decisions of the two levels of court below it.
One aspect which the state hooked onto in its appeal was the split vote in the District Court, where one of the three judges voted for the stiffer penalty.
Mor was fired by the police force in January 2015 after 36 years of service. In March 2015, the police investigations department released a report detailing criminal police issues including sexual-harassment crimes.