Experts fear rapist Sela's urges might return soon

"Initially he will be more keen on escape, but his urges could return quite soon."

sela in court 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
sela in court 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Escaped prisoner and serial rapist Benny Sela is unlikely to try to sexually attack women during his first days on the loose, according to two prominent psychiatrists who don't know him personally but who do know about the serious personality disorder involved in such perversions. While women should be on guard at all times, agreed Geha Mental Health Center director Prof. Zvi Zemishlany and Ben-Gurion University Prof. Eliezer Witztum, a person in his situation will do all he can not to be apprehended. His foremost urge is to remain out of prison and not to rape, they said. "An escaped serial rapist is like a wild animal who hides, not one who seeks out females as his main urge. He wants to run away," said Zemishlany. "In such circumstances, sexuality does not have high priority. Sela is not a ticking bomb at this point." He said the number of serial rapists is, fortunately, small, and they suffer from a very severe anti-social personality disorder that involves sadism. "There is genetic vulnerability to this, as well as a history of physical and emotional abuse as a child. Serial rapists do not necessarily have to have been raped or otherwise sexually abused when young. People who are less anti-social have other ways to follow their impulses, with regular partners, for example," said Zemishlany, who has studied the subject. Witztum, who also has never met Sela or seen his personal file, said serial rapists have a strong violent bent that usually focuses on women. "They are not sick, unlike pedophiliacs. They have no insight. They know that if they escape, they will eventually be brought back to prison and punished. They often suffered traumas as children and grew up in chaotic households." Up to 75 percent of people with serious anti-social personality disorders have a history of chronic abuse - physical and/or emotional, degradation and not necessarily sexual, Zemishlany added. "There are many people who were raped but are good citizens. Serial rapists are very aggressive, and it is not correct to say that they are victims of violence. Other people have suffered abuse, even rape, but they do not become serial rapists or play out their urges as psychopaths. Serial rapists are criminals who don't care about their victims. They are anti-social people who get a surge of excitement when they commit these crimes and don't feel they are doing anything wrong." Running away from prison is the dream of every inmate," added Zemishlany, and Sela's actions "certainly show persistence, lack of inhibitions and the feeling that he deserves everything he wants. Serial rapists have almost no inhibitory superego that tells them not to commit an act." The two experts concurred that chemical emasculation by a once-a-month injection of drugs that counter the male sex hormone testosterone is neither effective nor necessary for serial rapists, Zemishlany continued. "There are no women in prison, so Sela doesn't have an opportunity. These drugs are given to pedophiles to stop their urge. In addition, it is forbidden to give this injection without the prisoner's permission and cooperation. If a serial rapist attacks male prisoners, he should be put into isolation. He is not defined as a psychiatric patient and is no successful treatment for personality problems like this." "There is no treatment for this. They have to be isolated from society," Witztum stated. Dr. Moshe Birger, chief psychiatrist of the Israel Prisons Service and a Health Ministry employee, gave several media interviews during the past few days, but by early Sunday afternoon, he was instructed by the ministry to stop speaking to the press because of patients' legal rights to privacy. In the interviews, Birger said that he last met Sela six years ago, after the rapist was sentenced to a long term, after being asked to assess his mental state and to decide if he was suited to treatment. He said he concluded that treatment would be of no benefit. Birger added that he has not been in contact with Sela since then and was speaking only on the basis of media reports in recent days. Serial rapists, explained Birger, "get pleasure from physical or sexual abuse and control of others and not from the sexual act." The state psychiatrist said that if anyone encountered Sela, he should run, call the police and "not be a hero," as "he is strong, dangerous and desperate... He is meticulous and intelligent. His escape was apparently not impulsive. He knows how to mislead people with his words and can persuade others how unfortunate he is. Initially, he will be more keen on escape than looking for more victims. But if he feels free among a population of women, his urges can return quite soon."