Female judges accuse colleague in rape case

Women objected to phrase in ruling that victim may have "enjoyed it".

woman silhouette  88 (photo credit: )
woman silhouette 88
(photo credit: )
The Internet news site News First Class published on Sunday a letter reportedly sent by two of the three Nazareth District Court judges who signed a controversial ruling handed down in April in the case of a girl who was raped by her step-father for 10 years, until she reached the age of 18. The judges, Gabriell (De-Leeuw) Levy and Nehama Monitz accused the presiding judge, Aharon Aminoff, of having misled them by promising to omit a paragraph that has triggered vociferous criticism over the past few days. The paragraph included the suggestion that the girl may have "enjoyed the defendant's actions." The Courts Administration spokeswoman indicated that there was such a letter, but that it could not release it nor confirm or deny the report in the NFC news site. In their ruling, which was written by Aminoff, the judges addressed the fact that the girl had not complained about her step-father's sexual advances throughout the years until she was engaged to be married. "These facts make us wonder and raise thoughts about whether the defendant's actions at the beginning, when the victim was a little girl, constituted rape and lack of understanding on her part (because of her age) and ended up, when she grew up and became an adolescent, being voluntary. It is possible that during the years that she was an adolescent, she enjoyed the defendant's actions and wanted them (even though she had matured and understood that the acts were forbidden.)" Levy and Monitz reportedly wrote that they had protested this section of the ruling and had insisted that Aminoff remove it. Taking him at his word, the judges attached their names to the decision without reading it. They only found out after he read out part of the decision in court that he had not kept his promise. "Despite this understanding, the section was included in the conviction without our knowledge," wrote the judges. "It does not reflect our views, it contradicts our legal position and our values, and we absolutely disassociate ourselves from it, as we did from the start." The judges wrote that they had immediately complained to the president of the Nazareth District Court and, afterwards, to Judge Boaz Okun, head of the Courts Administration. In response to queries about the decision, the Courts Administration issued a statement saying that "usually, judges do not make comments about the victims of crimes." The spokeswoman added that since the state intended to appeal the decision, the court could not comment. However, she added that "it can be assumed that if there was a mistake, it will be corrected during the appeal procedure." Meanwhile, Yitzhak Kadman, director-general of the Israel National Council for the Child, blasted the court and charged that the statement was "wicked stupidity, stemming from basic ignorance of the nature of exploitative relations involved in incest, which are nothing other than the ongoing murder of the victim's soul." Kadman called on the Judges' Ombudswoman, Tova Strasberg-Cohen, the Courts Administration and Supreme Court President Aharon Barak to take severe action against the judges. Meanwhile, watchdog organization Ometz lodged a complaint with Strasberg-Cohen.