(photo credit: Channel 10)
The former bodyguard of IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was sentenced
on Thursday to eight years in prison for the attempted sexual
molestation of a 22-year-old woman in Tel Aviv last November.
Erez Efrati, 30, was also sentenced to two years suspended sentence and
will have to pay the victim NIS 150,000 in compensation.
Ex-Ashkenazi guard convicted
In June, Efrati pled guilty to attempted sexual molestation and sexual assault before the Tel Aviv District Court. As part of the plea bargain, the court dropped the charges of attempted rape and sexual molestation under aggravated circumstances.
Efrati could have been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for the attempted sexual molestation charge.
The charges stem from an incident last December, when after Efrati left his bachelor party at strip club near the Tel Aviv Port he followed the victim to a parking lot near the Reading power plant and dragged her from the car to the banks of the Yarkon River, where he beat her and threatened to kill her, while trying to rape the victim.
Efrati fled after bystanders came to the woman's rescue and was found by police shortly thereafter hiding in the shallow waters of the river.
Efrati's wedding planned for four days later was cancelled.
In June, prosecutors said they pushed for a plea bargain in order to avoid a lengthy, drawn-out trial requiring the testimony of dozens of witnesses.
Upon issuing the sentence, judges stated that Efrati's behavior "typifies that of a serial sex offender, willing to do whatever it takes to carry out his crime," and said that in light of the testimony of friends who spoke of his stellar character, he resembled a sort of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.
Dr. Dana Pugach, who represented the complainant on behalf of the Noga center for victims of crime at the Ono Academic College, said her client "mainly feels relief that it [the trial] is all over."
Pugach said it was very important for her client to come to the sentencing and testify before the court "because she felt it was important for the court to see the victim in the flesh and blood and understand who the crime relates to. Otherwise they would have only seen and been able to relate to Efrati and his supporters."
Pogach added that the NIS 150,000 fine is a very substantial amount and that while her client is pleased at the verdict "she's not happy. A sentencing is not something joyful, you have a woman who is hurt and a man who is going to prison. Nonetheless, we feel the sentence was fitting."
Pogach would not speak about the effect the attack has had on her client, but said "sexual assaults are very difficult and take a very long time to recover from."