Supreme Court finalizes 27-year sentence for PM’s ex-driver

Ilan Shmuel convicted for committing hundreds of sexual assaults over more than two decades

Israeli Supreme Court (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Sunday rejected the appeal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former driver, thereby finalizing his 27-year prison sentence for committing hundreds of sexual assaults and rapes against several minors, most of whom were his relatives.
Ilan Shmuel was originally sentenced by the Jerusalem District Court in January 2017 for crimes that covered a period of 21 years.
Shmuel argued that based on gaps in their stories and how much time had passed, his accusers’ memories were unreliable. He also alleged that his victims manufactured a story together, and that having been influenced by one another, their testimonies were tainted.
The Supreme Court recognized some validity in those objections, but overruled them on Sunday, saying there was no way to avoid such issues when so many victims were related, and when a significant amount of time passed before the group felt confident enough to come forward. 
The Jerusalem District Court in September 2016 also fined Shmuel, a Zecharya resident in his mid-50s, NIS 940,000 for crimes against seven victims from 1988 through 2006.
From 2007 through 2009, Shmuel also sexually assaulted A.A., a friend of his daughter who was only nine years old at the time.
The sentence was unusually harsh compared to others imposed for similar crimes, and indicated the court was calling for stiffer sentences for sex crimes against under-aged victims, reflecting an ongoing public debate. According to the indictment, Shmuel sexually assaulted and raped B.B., a relative, dozens of times. The assaults started in 1988, when B.B. was 12 years old, and continued over a one-to-two-year period at the child’s grandparents’ house.
Another time, when driving her home, Shmuel told B.B. he just “lost control,” it “would not happen again,” and she “should not tell anyone.” However, Shmuel continued to rape the young girl repeatedly.
From 1991 through 1995, Shmuel sexually assaulted C.C. – another family member who was 11 at the time – at her home, at dozens of times and in a number of ways.
In 1996, Shmuel sexually assaulted D.D., also a family member, who was then nine years old, numerous times, both at his house and in his car.
From 2004 through 2006, Shmuel sexually assaulted family member E.E., then 11 years old at his house.
Shmuel also raped and sexually assaulted F.F. and G.G., both of whom were minors at the time. F.F. was a relative.
According to media reports, Shmuel was Netanyahu’s driver until 2011. He was removed from his job after the Prime Minister’s Office learned he was being investigated for sex crimes. The PMO has not commented on the case other than to say when it learned about the allegations in 2014, they reported the matter and placed Shmuel on leave.