Orthodox child-rape case back in court

By Anna Sheinman, May 23, 2013

The retrial of a Chasidic man charged with the rape and sexual assault of a young Orthodox woman, opened this week, after an earlier jury failed to return a verdict.

Father of five Menachem Mendel Levy, 41, has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing the young woman when she was aged between 14 and 21.

He claims that he had a consensual, extramarital affair with the young woman — who cannot be identified for legal reasons — and that the affair began when she was over the age of 16.

The prosecution alleges there was a “course of sexual abuse”. It was argued in court this week that what began as indecent assault escalated into a “continuous course of rape” that started when the young woman was legally a child.

David Markham, prosecuting, said: “Whenever the opportunity presented itself Mr Levy would, in her words, ‘pounce’, treating her ‘as if I were nothing’.”

He told Wood Green Crown Court that the young woman did not complain because “she thought she was to blame”.

This belief was “rooted in her upbringing in the Orthodox Jewish community”, and that Mr Levy exploited her naivety and fears.

Mr Markham said that, when the woman complained of abuse, she faced hostility from the community for having a relationship with a married man. “She found herself vilified for disclosing years of sexual abuse,” he said.

The trial continues.

Last updated: 8:45pm, May 23 2013