Haredi Man Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Minors in Jerusalem

By Ha'aretz Service
January 31, 2011

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Hezkiyahu Kahalani, a convicted sex offender, to 10 years in prison Monday after he was found guilty of molesting three children between the ages of 10-12, two of them siblings.

In addition to the 10 years in prison, Kahalani was put on two additional years of probation and required to pay 30,000 NIS in damages to the children's families, 10 thousand NIS per family.

Kahalani, a member of the ultra-Orthodox Haredi community, allegedly molested the children over the course of two years between 2008 and 2009. Before molesting them, Kahalani would allegedly gain the children's trust by giving them donkey rides and letting them pet kittens.

Once he was sure the children felt safe with him, Kahalani would lead them to an abandoned building in Mea Shearim, an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood, and allegedly molest them.

In Kahalani's verdict, Judges Tzvi Segal, Moshe Drori and Moshe Cohen wrote that the children who were victims "grew up in a religious environment, in a conservative and closed society. They trusted the defendant and believed he was their friend, and he took advantage of their innocence and abused them behind closed doors."

Kahalani was imprisoned in 1992 after being convicted of indecent assault, and was sent to prison again for three years in 2001 after he sexually abused two minors.

"The case at hand is particularly severe. The defendant is dangerous, he has a criminal background and he has shown no motivation or intent to rehabilitate himself," the judges wrote in Kahalani's sentence.

Kahalani's attorney, Hanan Rubenstein from the Public Defender's Office, claimed that the police and prison authorities were biased against him because of Kahalani's Haredi lifestyle and his opposition to Israel's secular government.