Trial of former Jerusalem police chief on sexual assault charges opens

Nisso Shaham faces charges of sexual assault, sexual harassment, fraud and breach of trust.

Court gavel justice judge legal law 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Court gavel justice judge legal law 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The trial of former Jerusalem police chief Asst.-Ch. Nisso Shaham on charges of sexual assault, sexual harassment, fraud and breach of trust opened in the Ramle Magistrate’s Court on Sunday.
A full reading and full denial of the indictment were postponed until February 27, but after the proceeding, Shaham said, “I rejected a plea bargain offer” from the prosecution “because here in court is the place to clarify the truth.”
He added that even those “witnesses who were pushed by the Justice Ministry’s internal affairs division to lie [about the allegations against him] will need to tell the truth, there will be no choice.”
In the indictment filed against Shaham on October 14, he was charged as follows: eight different junior female police officers accused Shaham of exploiting his senior position to carry out sexual relations with them – including acts that were against their will – and of sexually harassing a number of them.
At the same time, Shaham made decisions relating to the promotion or career status of the same eight women, which the indictment called a direct conflict of interest.
Some of these decisions included granting them leaves of absence to study and transfers to better or more desirable jobs in the organization.
Some of the women who came to Shaham were in economic distress at the time.
The sexual incidents took place in Shaham’s car and at police buildings, as well as at his house and his mother’s house, in addition to other locations.
The delay of the full reading of the indictment and full denial stemmed from the defense’s claim that it had only received a significant portion of the evidence in the last two weeks and wished to issue a specific, point-by-point denial.
Both the prosecution and the defense requested that the trial be held behind closed doors (meaning with no press coverage) to protect the identities of the women involved.
Channel 10, on behalf of the press pool, opposed the request, asking that the court limit any closed-door ruling to specific aspects of the trial, but not to ban the press categorically.
The court said it would decide the issue at the next hearing.
A rhetorical battle broke out between the prosecution and the defense when the prosecution referred to the women as the “complainants” and the defense said that the women should not be called complainants as they did not approach the police themselves – rather, the police sought them out.
In July 2012, following an undercover operation by the Justice Ministry, Shaham was interrogated, and in November 2012 he was informed that the ministry was weighing an indictment against him.
When the allegations were made public in August 2012, Shaham resigned from his post as head of Jerusalem police and went on forced administrative leave, eventually being fired permanently in late October. He was replaced by then Southern District chief Asst.-Ch. Yossi Prienti.
Ben Hartman contributed to this story.