Judge who allegedly beat his kids faces probe

Judge takes voluntary leave of absence; A-G Weinstein takes fire for slowing police investigation, shielding judge.

Supreme Court 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Supreme Court 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Under fire from all sides, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein finally approved late on Thursday the police request to interrogate a senior judge who allegedly beat his children for years.
Weinstein accepted responsibility for the nearly three-year delay in authorizing the interrogation, saying there had been “errors in his office.”
One of the main reasons for the delay was that the prosecutor under Weinstein, who was supposedly handling the details of the case, was on an extended maternity leave, and therefore had not brought all of the updated information to Weinstein’s attention, Channel 10 news reported on Thursday.
In addition, it came out for the first time that the judge in question had dealt with family court matters while being himself under investigation for allegedly beating his children, the Channel 10 report said.
Earlier on Thursday, the court spokesman announced that the judge, recently thrust into the headlines by the allegations, had taken a voluntary leave of absence.
The move was not enough, however, to put out the firestorm across the political spectrum against Weinstein for what several Knesset members and organizations were calling his improper shielding of the judge from scrutiny.
Police had sought to interrogate the judge as part of their investigation for some time, but until Thursday Weinstein had rebuffed them. Officers may not interrogate, or even investigate, a judge (or an MK, minister or the president) without the attorney-general’s permission.
According to the allegations, which the Justice Ministry confirmed on Wednesday had been transmitted to Weinstein, a complaint was first filed against the judge three years ago, after one of his children’s teachers notified social services of the problem.
The judge allegedly admitted to the teacher that he beat his children, apologized and expressed regret. Later and much more recently, however, there were additional reports of beatings.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter to acting Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer asking that the Knesset State Control Committee investigate Weinstein’s shielding of the senior judge.
“Weinstein has lost the faith of the public,” the statement said.
MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Likud Beytenu), the most recent chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child, sent a request to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, demanding an explanation of how the judge was allowed to continue on the bench for so long.
“How can it be that for three years a senior judge remained in office in the justice system while he held a sword around his neck regarding grave matters and suspicions?” Levy asked. “Is a person in a public position immune before the law?”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On called on Weinstein to “draw the conclusions” from his “failures” and to resign.
The Tel Aviv and Central District of the Israel Bar Association released a statement slamming both the judge and Weinstein, and calling on the Bar Association’s executive committee to file a petition to the High Court of Justice against Weinstein’s conduct.
The executive committee said it was studying the possibility.
A statement from the court administration said that since the alleged victims were minors, it would be illegal to publish the judge’s name, or their names, at this time.
Before approval came on Thursday to interrogate the judge, the Justice Ministry spokesman said “It is true that the attorney-general did not approve, at the time, the interrogation under oath of the judge being complained about, and requested additional clarifications from the police and from social services authorities regarding the updated situation of the fabric of the relations in the family.”
These clarifications were requested “to ensure that the damage from an interrogation would not outweigh the benefit,” and to consider what was truly “in the best interests of the children,” the spokesman said.
The ministry’s latest statement on Thursday took full responsibility for an improper delay in the investigation.