Orthodox man in court over alleged sex assault on bus


A court today heard how an Orthodox Jewish man "touched a young actress’s bottom" on a London bus, although the defendant maintains he was merely "moving his coat".

Yehzkel Makowetzki, 39, allegedly moved his hand underneath his clothing and pressed it against the alleged victim’s body as she was reading a script.

The woman, who is in her late 20s, looked down to see his fist touching her bottom and asked: "Are you trying to touch me up?"

Mr Makowetzki explained it was his cloak and apologised before moving to another seat, jurors heard.

The woman tried to take a picture of him on her mobile phone before calling police.

'It upset me that I was suspected of something like that

Following his arrest, Mr Makowetzki told officers that it was an accident.

He said, in a prepared statement: "I deny touching a female on the bus. I don't remember the date but there was an incident where I was sitting next to a female.

"We were both wearing coats and we were both uncomfortable so I moved it [his coat].

"She said, 'you touched me'. I explained I had not, I had just moved my coat but I couldn't understand what she was saying."

The alleged victim told jurors that she was on the 476 bus towards Angel Islington on the evening of December 8 last year and had her bag on the next seat because it was not busy.

When Mr Makowetzki stood next to that seat she moved her bag and he sat down, the court heard.

She said: “He was wearing Jewish attire, clothes. He whipped up his cloak and I remember it making contact with me but I carried on reading my script.

“The next thing I remember is my body reacted. I looked down and his hand is on my bottom on my side.

“I just reacted and said: ‘Are you trying to touch me up?’

"I think he apologised and blamed it on his cloak. I remember feeling trapped it. I told him I wanted to get out so he got up and went to the area near the disabled seat and talked to a man in the disabled seat."

She described his hand being in a "clenched fist" and added: "There was no reason for his hand to have been there. It was on my seat."

Mr Makowetzki, of Hackney, east London, denies sexual assault. Speaking with the help of an interpreter he told the court that he was ashamed and upset to be accused of sexually assaulting the actress on the bus.

The father-of-13 told the court he was on his way to visit the Adath Yisroel synagogue in Stoke Newington, north London.

He says he sat down next to the alleged victim because it was a high seat with good views out of the driver's window and to the left hand side of the bus.

“I wanted to know exactly where to get off. You can see in the front and sides and it is high.”

Asked if he deliberately targeted her, he said: “It's not true.”

He said he deliberately left a space between himself and the woman, "so I could put my hand down to support myself".

Mr Makowetzki described how he pulled up his ankle-length coat to make himself more comfortable and denied the suggestion he was trying to hide his hand under it.

“I lifted my coat and put my hand on the seat beside me because it was more comfortable for me.

“She said, 'you are trying to touch me’. I said it was the coat, I showed the coat.

“I was very upset that I was being suspected like that. She said something about moving and I didn't understand whether I was supposed to move or she was supposed to move.

“I said I am sorry and went to sit somewhere else.”

Mr Makowetzki said he apologised “because I saw that she didn't understand me,” but maintains that he had not done anything wrong.

He told the court: “I was ashamed that she thought something, it upset me that I was suspected of something like that.”

Mr Makowetzki was born in Jerusalem into a strictly Orthodox family with 10 siblings.

His father died when Mr Makowetzki was 12. He studied at a yeshivah before marrying at the age of 19.

The couple spent three years in Vienna, Austria, before coming to London so he could advance his Jewish studies.

The trial continues.

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