Police this week arrested a man they suspect carried out a nightmare campaign of extortion and blackmail against a haredi man with whom he had a sexual encounter on a Tel Aviv beach.
The suspect, Holon resident Idan Amos, 31, was brought before a Tel Aviv court on Wednesday, where his remand was extended for five days.
The story began about a month ago, when the complainant, a resident of the central region, went alone to a Tel Aviv beach, where he allegedly met Amos and engaged in an intimate act with him. Afterward, the suspect took the man's picture with his cellphone.
The man then pleaded with Amos to erase the picture. Instead, the suspect reportedly struck him and stole his cellphone, bag and clothing.
Thus began a campaign of threats and extortion that did not stop until the victim turned to the police.
As the beaten young man was driving home from the beach, he noticed the suspect following him in his car. At the next traffic light, Amos allegedly got out, broke the passenger-side window of the man's car and stole an additional bag, from which he learned the victim's personal details.
A few days later, Amos reportedly showed up at the victim's home and demanded money, threatening to release the photos if he didn't pay. The victim agreed, and after the suspect left, he went to police to complain that he was being threatened and stalked by the suspect.
Police opened an investigation and had the victim arrange a meeting with the suspect to hand over the money. When Amos arrived for the meeting, detectives arrested him.
Amos reportedly confessed to the blackmail scheme while under police questioning. A Tel Aviv court is expected to charge Amos with robbery, extortion through the use of threats, and violation of privacy by next Monday.
A Tel Aviv police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that the victim had shown great courage in filing the complaint, since he could face ostracism or worse if people in his community found out.
Police were doing everything they could to make sure the victim's identity was not revealed and had issued a gag order on all his details, including his age and place of residence, the spokesman said.
If the story had ended with the assault and robbery at the beach, the spokesman said, the man probably would have kept silent, but "he got to a point where he had no choice. This man wouldn't stop coming after him. He had to go to the police."
Police will ensure that all testimony and court appearances the victim has to make will take place behind closed doors, with no media present or notified.