Tel Aviv school rapes: Student suspect remanded in custody

The fifteen-year-old teen suspected of committing rape and indecent acts against a female schoolmate was remanded in custody for four days as more complaints begin to emerge.

Teachers' submissions for the "Classroom Look in Lockdown" project. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Teachers' submissions for the "Classroom Look in Lockdown" project.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The detention of the 15-year-old boy from Tel Aviv suspected of rape was extended by four days, the Bat Yam Juvenile Court decided on Sunday.

The boy was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of committing rape and indecent acts against a female student from his school. A gag order has been imposed on all details of the investigation, including the boy’s identity.

The boy moved to his current school after complaints from fellow students were made against him in his previous school for inappropriate sexual behavior. He said all of his actions were done consensually.

Since the arrest, rumors have been circulating about many more cases, “and not all of them happened in this school.” According to one student, “there were girls who left school crying. It’s impossible to know how much damage was done,” students told Ynet.

Two alleged victims shared posts on social media, and one said she was not sure whether or not to speak up. However, police over the weekend demanded they remove the posts as they violated the gag order and could constitute obstruction of justice, and the girls complied.

 Hundreds of women gathering in Tel Aviv to protest rape culture, October 15, 2021 (credit: KULAN)
Hundreds of women gathering in Tel Aviv to protest rape culture, October 15, 2021 (credit: KULAN)

“H.,” one of the students’ parents at the school, was furious at the “oversight” of the school, which he said led to such a dire situation. “It’s a dark day, a very difficult time,” H. told 103FM. “I don’t think that there is a single parent in the State of Israel for whom this isn’t their worst nightmare. It is a very difficult feeling surrounding a very serious event.

“I was exposed to the case following a phone call from the media. They asked me if I was aware of what was happening at the school. The principal did not contact me and I can understand why,” H. said.

“It’s not possible that this boy was able to move up through the school system without someone flagging his behavior,” H. said. “You’re talking about a ticking bomb here. You had a bomb and moved it somewhere else – of course, something like this would happen.”

According to media, the Tel Aviv Municipality clarified that “cases of serious sexual assault were reported in two high schools in the city. School principals acted as required in such cases. Beyond that, we cannot give further detail. The cases are under police investigation.”

However, H. wanted to emphasize that the case did not occur within the walls of the school, explaining that “there is a difference between what happens inside the school grounds and what happens on a daily basis. You cannot control all the children 24/7, you can only guide them and help them. The school is not just a place to teach children for matriculation and grades, it is a place where children go through transitions, and there was a problem here.”

H. added that his daughter is still attending school despite the incident.

“I trust the professional staff,” he said. “We, as parents, are still learning about the situation. I want to pray that this is the last time this will happen but unfortunately, I still know that these things happen. The atmosphere is very difficult.”

Haim Ohana, the boy’s defense attorney, told Walla that, “What can be said is that the situation is currently under investigation and my client is giving his version of events.

“I can only express that unfortunately everything is backward – first, there is an ‘investigation’ on social media, on Facebook and Instagram, then there is an ‘investigation’ through conversations in cafés and living rooms, and only then are you freed up for the negligible and marginal thing called police investigation where the truth is revealed. I need not mention the irreversible damage done to my client throughout this process.

“I would expect there to be some sort of protocol for such situations, even something in the law – and this law would serve to protect potential suspects from abusive posts on all social networks before the police investigation begins, and before any real findings are made by competent investigators,” Ohana added. “What’s happening here is difficult – a person faces further interrogation after the general public has already interrogated him, judged him, expressed its opinion, defined him, and destroyed his character. And then you have to deal with ‘Oh, sorry, one more thing, we’re going to interrogate you for a police investigation.’ Now we need to let the interrogation proceed and see what the police decide.

“This is a normal family, people who are the salt of the earth, an exemplary family, and this thing has hit them like a thunderstorm on a clear day. Now they have to deal with all of these suspicions. They believe in a fair police investigation – unlike social networks. Every parent who could suddenly find themselves in such a situation will have to deal with an investigation against his son or daughter on such sensitive and serious issues,” he said.