Man convicted of raping a woman he met on dating site

Amitai Ashtamker lied about his name, age and job to appear more attractive to victim; beat her with bottle, rock.

Rape victim (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Rape victim
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
The Haifa District Court on Wednesday convicted Amitai Ashtamker, a resident of Kiryat Shmona, of sexual offenses including aggravated rape and sodomy perpetrated against a young woman he met on the Internet.
According to the charge sheet, 32-year-old Ashtamker met the woman, who was not named, on the “Mekusharim” social networking site a year ago. He lied to her about his name, age and profession, claiming that he was a 25- year-old engineering student.
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Ashtamker arranged to meet the woman near her home in Karmiel, and later drove her to a wooded picnic area, where they drank alcohol and talked. However, when the woman said she wanted to return home, Ashtamker became violent, hitting her over the head with a bottle, threatening to disfigure her face and beat her with a rock. He then raped her.
The attack ended only when a police car stopped close by and the woman managed to escape and ask police officers for help.
In the police investigation and in court, Ashtamker admitted lying about his identity, but denied raping the woman, claiming that the sex had been consensual and mutually agreed on beforehand.
In convicting Ashtamker, Judge Yosef Elron wrote that the plaintiff’s version of events was credible, reliable, compelling and supported by physical evidence, and that Ashtamker’s testimony was filled with lies and evasions.
As an example of his attitude to the investigation and to women in general, the judges noted that Ashtamker had refused to answer questions put to him by a female investigator, demanding instead to speak to a male investigator.
“You’d have gotten a great investigation if you’d put a male cop here,” the judges reported Ashtamker as saying.
“I accept the plaintiff’s story that she made clear to the defendant her objections and lack of agreement to his actions; but despite this, he decided to continue as if she were an object,” Judge Elron wrote in his judgement.
The Haifa District Court is expected to sentence Ashtamker in the next two months.
In response to the judgment, Efrat Oren of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel cautioned women to take care when getting to know potential dates on the Internet.
Social networking sites have created new opportunities for people to meet, but in a way that is detached from any shared social environment, Oren noted.
“In the past, people mostly got to know each other in common surroundings, and by meeting in places both people were familiar with.
However, the Internet has created a sterile social environment where people get to know each other without intermediaries – and that can increase the chances of danger,” she added.
Oren added that sexual violence – including date rape – is a phenomenon that extends far beyond social networking, and called for educators to help combat the problem.
“The place to deal with the problem of sexual violence, both on social networks and in general, is in the schools,” Oren said.
For those seeking aid and information, the Association of Rape Crisis Center can be reached via its 24-hour hot line at *1202.