Substitute teacher Shaul Shamai was indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday for indecently assaulting several seven-year-old girls and one 13-year-old girl. He was also charged with failing to report his previous conviction for sexual offenses to the school where he was employed.
Shamai, 48, from Rishon Lezion, near Tel Aviv, was employed as a substitute teacher by a northern Tel Aviv elementary school from October until his arrest earlier this month.
According to the indictment Shamai committed a series of sexual offenses against four 7- and 8-year-old girls in front of the rest of the class when they would come to him for help during lessons. He would allegedly sit the girls on his lap and put his hands under their clothes and touch them inappropriately, sometimes despite their verbal or physical resistance.
During the investigation it emerged that the principal, an educational adviser and another pupil warned Shamai several times about his inappropriate physical contact with the students. He was barred from speaking with the pupils during break and told not to have any physical contact with them.
During one confrontation between Shamai and the principal, he said that she had permitted him to hug the students — a claim she denied.
Shamai denied all the charges saying that he simply showed a warm, loving, fatherly attitude to the pupils but did not harm them. He admitted that he may have “accidentally touched them” inappropriately while hugging them. He also told the court that the girls would sit on his lap. When asked whether he touched their private parts he replied, “I don’t remember anymore, and I have nothing further to say.”
Shamai was also charged with sexual offenses against a 13-year-old girl he tutored privately from July 2014 until September 2016 in her home in Rishon Lezion. He would allegedly put his hand under her shirt and tell her to relax. One time he licked her lips and unsuccessfully tried to force his tongue into her mouth. Immediately afterward the girl phoned her mother, crying, and the mother confronted Shamai, who denied he had done anything.
Shamai returned to the house and pleaded with the girl not to tell anyone because “if she told she would ruin his career.”
The prosecution requested that Shamai be remanded in custody until the end of the hearing. Shamai abused the teacher-pupil relationship, the prosecution said, using his position of authority to take advantage of them.
“The accused committed a long series of serious sexual offenses,” the request stated. “In a repeated pattern of action he took advantage of his role as a teacher, an educator responsible for the well-being of young girls, and cynically used them satisfy his desires.”