Gang rape trial to begin next week

3 youths charged with torture and abuse of 17-year-old US-Israeli teenager.

By
January 27, 2010 02:40
4 minute read.
rape victim 88

rape victim 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Three youths are set to stand trial next Monday in the Haifa area for subjecting a 17-year-old US-Israeli teenager to days of brutal gang rape and abuse at a prison facility last November. Their alleged victim, S. (his name is withheld to protect his privacy), immigrated to Karmiel with his family from Miami three years ago.

S. was subjected to a series of harrowing physical and sexual abuses while being temporarily held at the Kishon prison near Haifa on minor suspicions between November 18 and 22, according to northern district state prosecutors.

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Official medical reports composed by doctors who examined S. after he was released from prison fully back his account of the abuse. "Three inmates decided to carry out a ceremony to show S. who was in charge. They beat him with a water bottle, pierced his ear and raped him anally and orally twice," Amir Melzer, an attorney representing the family, said.

S. was arrested by Karmiel police officers on November 18, and was accused of being in possession of a small amount of hashish and of "planning" to break into a home. His family members say his only mistake was to urinate outside the front yard of his girlfriend's neighbor's house as he waited for her to come home, prompting a suspicious neighbor to contact municipal security guards, who in turn called in the police.

The Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department is looking into a report by the teenager that he was struck repeatedly by officers while being questioned, despite asking officers to refrain from hitting him on the head. S. suffered a serious injury caused by a fall in 2007, which fractured his skull. He has developed tinnitus and a hearing impairment since the fall.

Melzer told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he was making every effort to spare S. the ordeal of having to face his attackers in court next week. "There is no justification or any judicial basis that requires him to appear in court. This isn't the time or the place. He only has to be present during later stages," Melzer said. "Since he is the victim of a sexual assault and a minor, he could give evidence via a video call or be questioned by a special interrogator, rather than expose him to more trauma. I will do everything I can so that he doesn't have to stand and face those youths," Melzer added.

Meanwhile, despite the growing public outcry over S.'s ordeal, northern district state prosecutors have not cancelled an indictment against S. scheduled for the morning of February 8 at the Krayot Magistrate's Court, in which the state plans to charge S. with "attempted breaking and entering, and possession of a dangerous drug for self use."

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Melzer said he was appalled by the fact that the summons to court received by S. - who remains under house arrest - has not been rescinded. "I think that after the state did such an injustice, the indictment must be cancelled. I will submit a written request for a cancellation of charges a few days before the trial, and I hope that at least this part of the shameful episode will come to an end."

In the meantime, Lior, S's stepfather said that despite all of the trauma he endured, S. was beginning to show signs of recovery. "He is in the textbook phase one of a person who was sexually abused. He is moving at the pace he should be. That doesn't mean he's ok - he has nightmares, emotial crashes where he starts crying, and he keeps saying he just wants the images to go away," Lior said. "The good news is that as opposed to two months ago, when the crashes were very frequent, now they are less frequent, and he bounces back quicker. That, believe or not, is an improvement," he added.

"We're still sleeping in shifts to make sure that myself, my wife and my older son are there for him at all times. He's taking music classes and therapy to help him come out of this. And we're trying to mentally prepare him for next week's trial," Lior continued. "My wife is on anti-depressants. I have to take a pill because my heart has begun skipping beats. I have a stack of medicines I wasn't taking two months ago," he added. "I have to stay strong, no matter what. I will keep pushing until we're out of this tunnel."

Lior said the family was struggling to survive financially despite the generous financial and emotional support it received from members of the Anglo-Israeli community, who rallied around the family. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here right now," he said.

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