multipurpose crime 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski and AP [file])
A senior officer in the Israel Police's Central District told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday afternoon that reports of a serial rapist operating in Ra'anana had been "blown up out of all proportion."
According to the officer, police are exploring whether two of three recent attacks were related, but he said that the third had no sexual component.
Earlier Thursday, it was widely reported that police suspected that a serial pedophile was operating in Ra'anana after news broke that a 12-year-old boy was raped last week by an unknown assailant whose modus operandi was similar to that of the person who attacked another local boy a month earlier.
Late Wednesday, the Ramle Magistrate's Court issued a gag order on the details of the case.
In the first attack against a boy in the city, around six weeks ago, a neighbor managed to scare off the assailant. The victim only contacted police after he heard that another boy had been attacked.
The report of the assaults rocked the affluent Sharon-area community, more accustomed to reading headlines then to making them.
"The sexual assault that occurred in Ra'anana is a very exceptional and serious incident," municipal officials said on Thursday. "Ra'anana is a secure and calm city."
Following the reports of last week's rape, the city's security department began helping police search for the attacker. According to the city, the security department doubled its personnel on duty, hundreds of security guards at public institutions received special instructions, and seven patrol cars from the municipality started patrolling the streets 24 hours a day.
Municipal officials said that the town's crisis response team has been accompanying the victim and his family since the attack.
The city's preschool instructors and schoolteachers were instructed to discuss with their charges what had happened, allow them to express their feelings, and explain that the "victim was never responsible" and that there are certain secrets better not kept to one's self.
A letter was also sent home calling parents' attention to the incident, instructing them on how to deal with the topic should it come up at home, and listing emergency services.
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