A man charged with a litany of sex crimes against children will be offered a plea bargain, after police accidentally destroyed evidence central to his case.
Under the plea bargain, Tel Aviv resident Haim Atar, 36, would plead guilty to three out of the nine sexual assaults for which he has been charged, and would serve five years in prison.
The evidence was reportedly deleted while police were attempting to copy the data to their own computer.
Atar was originally charged in February with nine counts of sodomy and performing an obscene act on children under the age of 14, as well as another count of sodomy against children under 16.
The indictment alleged that Atar sexually assaulted a series of teenage boys whom he met after posing under an assumed name on Internet dating sites.
Dr. Danny Gimshi, head of the Community Safety Research Institute at Rishon Lezion's College of Management and ex-police officer, said the incident doesn't necessarily represent a serious police failure.
"The main point of punishment is to prevent further victims, it isn't vengeance. We know that extremely severe sentences aren't the only influences on whether or not more people will become victims of crime," he said.
Gimshi added that a plea bargain prevents the underage complainants from having to testify in court, a potentially traumatic experience.
"If this was a case of negligence, then those responsible must face the consequences; if not, then it's a mistake and mistakes happen all the time.
Atar was originally arrested in January along with 10 other men, including a top media editor and a leading physiologist, on suspicion of using the Internet to lure a 13-year-old boy into having sex with them. Police say Atar was one of two ringleaders of the group.