Rabbi charged with rape, sexual assault, sodomy against a minor
|By JEREMY SHARON
In an indictment sheet of horrifying allegations, Rabbi David Harrison, who taught at the Beit Shulamit religious girls high school in Jerusalem, was charged with dozens of counts of rape, sodomy, sexual assault, assault and intimidation through threats against a former pupil, who was a minor at the time.
The complainant, a woman now aged 21, filed a charge of rape and other allegations against the rabbi at the beginning of the month claiming that they took place over a period of several months when she was 14.
Harrison has spent his career as a teacher and educator, and has also worked extensively performing wedding ceremonies for couples without a personal connection to a rabbi. Harrison began work at Beit Shulamit, in the Ramot neighborhood, as a part-time teacher in September 2007 but was fired in June 2010.
According to the indictment, Harrison, now 58, initiated direct contact with the complainant in December 2009, after he was her substitute teacher at Beit Shulamit.
A few days later, he met the pupil close to her classroom and asked her to accompany him to a staff room where he gave her worksheets to hand out to another class.
On this and several other occasions, Harrison allegedly touched the student on her hand, arm, stomach and chest, but apologized immediately for having touched her.
At a later stage, Harrison allegedly called the pupil to the same staff room used specifically by the rabbis of the school and which could be locked from the inside.
When she entered, Harrison allegedly locked the door behind her and told her to sit down, whereupon he took off his pants and underwear, and forced her to perform oral sex, while telling her that it was all right because he was a rabbi, that it was a secret between them and threatening to harm her if she told anyone.
In the next incident after this assault, Harrison allegedly met the girl at the entrance to the school and told her to come with him to a bomb shelter in the building, divided into two rooms. According to the indictment he pushed her into the inner room of the shelter, and told her to undress, slapping her in the face when he told her she was undressing too slowly.
He then hit her again, forced her to lie on a table in the room and then raped her. Afterwards he told her that she’d had fun, and that so had he, and that she had been a good girl. He again threatened to harm her and that he would tell everyone she was a prostitute if she spoke with anyone about what he had done.
According to the charge sheet, Harrison raped the girl between two and four times a week, including sodomy. On one occasion the day after he raped her, he forced her to swallow an emergency contraception or “morning after” pill.
During May 2010, the complainant was ill and was away from school. When she returned, Harrison allegedly ordered her to meet him in the shelter and scolded her for having been away without informing him.
He then allegedly ordered her to strip and beat her for several minutes, and then raped her once again.
The beatings occurred on other occasions as well, in which Harrison would kick the pupil, beat her with his belt, and in one incident threw a chair at her, bruising and scratching her.
Harrison would allegedly repeatedly threaten to harm her if she did not do as he instructed, and threatened to tell her parents and others that she had initiated sex with him and that they would believe him and not her because he was a rabbi.
He also threatened that he would have her expelled from school, that no other schools would accept her, and threatened to send other people to harm her and even kill her.
The state has requested that Harrison be incarcerated until the end of the legal proceedings against him.
The director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Orit Sulitzeanu, described the allegations as “outrageous and terrifying” and said that such crimes required a severe punishment.
“This criminal exploitation by an educator and religious figure is unforgivable,” said Sulitzeanu.
“This incident demonstrates the urgent need to ensure that advisers are placed in all educational frameworks who will be able to identify and deal with sexual violence, and for pupils to attend workshops for the prevention of sexual violence.”
Harrison denies the allegations against him and says he does not even know the woman.