Daughter’s dream allowed in rape conviction

Memory experts tell court dream enabled 22-year-old woman to recall father’s abuse 12 years earlier.

By
September 22, 2011 21:34
2 minute read.
An abused woman.

abuse_311. (photo credit: Courtesy (illustrative).)

 
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In an extensive judgment spanning some 174 pages, the Tel Aviv District Court confirmed on Thursday the guilty verdict of a man convicted of raping his daughter when she was 10.

Judges Zvi Gurfinkel, Judith Amsterdam and Dr. Kobi Vardi unanimously accepted expert testimony regarding the complainant, who said she repressed memories of the abuse and recalled it only years later in a terrifying dream.

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The defendant, Benny Samuel, had first been convicted of raping his daughter in 2008 and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Following his conviction, Samuel appealed to the Supreme Court and his defense attorneys questioned the authenticity of the complainant’s memory of the abuse.

The complainant was 22- years old and living in New York when she had a dream that prompted her to recall the abuse. Four years passed before she summoned the courage to return to Israel and submit a police complaint about her father.

Following the recommendation of the Supreme Court, the parties agreed to return the case to the Tel Aviv District Court and both prosecution and defense submitted testimony from expert witnesses.

Witnesses for the defense filed opinions that the complainant’s memory was false, but the court ruled that this was not enough to create reasonable doubt about Samuel’s guilt.



Instead, judges accepted the testimony of prosecution witnesses Prof. Eli Zomer, Dr. Zvia Zeligman and Dr. Anat Gur, all experts in dealing with sexual assault victims.

In over a hundred pages of testimony, the expert witnesses said that the complainant’s dream was inspired by real memories, and pointed to the fact that she had experienced similar nightmares previously and had told her cousin that she felt her father had “done something to her.”

The complainant had also expressed discomfort about her relationship with her father and felt disgusted by him, they noted.

These facts suggest that the complainant was repressing memories, and were signs of post-traumatic stress, the experts said, who testified that uncertainty and doubt over memories of abuse are characteristic of incest victims.

While false memories evoke no emotional response, repressed memories can lead to extreme emotional reactions, as in the case of the complainant, the experts noted.

Following her dream, the complainant said she “felt like taking a knife and cutting the veins, cutting my skin off.”

“The evidence shows a very clear picture that is very hard to doubt of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by someone very close to the victim, starting at a young age and continuing over time,” expert witness Gur testified.

“The clinical symptoms, personal and interpersonal dynamics and the way the complainant tells the story fit the characteristics of fathers who harm their daughters.”

In confirming the original guilty verdict, the panel of judges also upheld the original sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of NIS 228,000.

After the original ruling in 2008, the court accepted Samuel’s request to delay his sentence until his appeal in the Supreme Court. As that appeal will now continue, the court ruled on Thursday to stay Samuel’s sentence until October 27.

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