(photo credit: Channel 10)
A former bodyguard of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. 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 in November.
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Erez Efrati, 30, also received a two-year suspended sentence from the Tel Aviv District Court, and was ordered to pay the victim NIS 150,000.
In June, Efrati pleaded guilty to attempted sexual molestation and sexual assault. As part of a plea bargain, the court dropped the charges of attempted rape and sexual molestation under aggravated circumstances.
He could have received 16 years in prison for the attempted sexual molestation charge.
In November, Efrati left his bachelor party at strip club near the Tel Aviv Port and followed the victim to a parking lot near the Reading power plant. He dragged her from the car to the banks of the Yarkon River, where he beat her, threatened to kill her, and tried to rape her.
Efrati fled after bystanders came to the woman’s rescue. Police soon found him hiding in the shallow waters of the river.
Efrati’s wedding, set for four days later, was canceled.
In June, prosecutors said they pushed for a plea bargain to avoid a drawn-out trial requiring the testimony of dozens of witnesses.
Upon issuing the sentence, the Tel Aviv District Court stated that Efrati’s behavior “typifies that of a serial sex offender, willing to do whatever it takes to carry out his crime,” and that in light of the testimony of friends who spoke of his stellar character, he resembled a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Dr. Dana Pugach, who represented the victim on behalf of the Noga Center for Victims of Crime at Ono Academic College, said her client “mainly feels relief that it [the trial] is all over.”
Pugach said it was important for her client to testify and to come to the sentencing, “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 that “sexual assaults are very difficult and take a very long time to recover from.”