Parents protest plea bargain for abusive preschool teachers

Abuse included multiple incidents of physical violence.

child abuse 88 (photo credit: )
child abuse 88
(photo credit: )
Preschool teachers Sami and Leah Tubias confessed and were convicted of abuse on Sunday in the Jerusalem District Court as part of a plea bargain. However, parents of children they abused in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood were anything but satisfied with the conviction. "To our great sorrow, despite the determined opposition of the parents and the Movement for the Safety of the Young Child, the plea bargain was signed and the clauses regarding assault were removed, even though there is video documentation of terrifying instances of assault by the couple," wrote Lilly Boxman in the name of the Movement for the Safety of the Young Child and a number of parents whose children were enrolled in the Gilo preschool. "The plea bargain is absurd and wrong and mostly does a great injustice to the parents, the children, and anyone who plans on sending their children to preschool," she wrote. According to the final indictment, "the accused psychologically abused the children, while hitting children in the preschool from time to time in front of their friends, yelling, threatening and creating terror among the children." The abuse, first documented on camera by Rafi Ginat in his popular Kol Botek investigative television series, included multiple incidents of physical violence. The indictment included one instance in which Leah Tubias grabbed a four-year-old boy by the arm, waved him in the air and then forcefully sat him in a chair in front of the others. In another case, the couple forced a girl to lie down at nap time by grabbing her by thes arms and physically laying her down on the carpet, pressing on her lower back as she cried, yelled and tried to stand up. While the children were sitting and watching television, Sami Tubias hit a boy on the head repeatedly with his shoe, even as the child cried for him to stop. Sami Tubias also admitted to other instances of physical abuse, including slapping the children and hitting one on his forehead. The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office responded to the parents' complaints, arguing that the plea bargain "correctly reflects the severity of the affair," and explained that the court had dropped the assault charge because it was less serious than that of abuse. "According to the bargain, the accused admitted to the significant part of the indictment," said the district attorney's office in its Sunday response. "The parents' voices were heard, and their position was taken into consideration by the office. In a situation where the state's position is almost entirely accepted, there is no justification for running a court trial at any cost." Boxman, however, said that the plea bargain set a dangerous precedent for future cases. She added that instances of abuse in preschools were revealed on a near-daily basis, and thus "it is so important to find the way to deter and prevent future incidents. The plea bargain that was signed is an obstacle to this goal." The plea bargain did not include an agreement on sentencing for the couple, who will return to the courtroom at a later date.