An Orthodox Jewish man has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two of his step-daughters, aged nine and 12-years-old.
A court heard how the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, would crawl into the girls’ beds on Shabbat and touch them inappropriately. He also assaulted them while they were sitting on his lap, sometimes while their mother was in a nearby room.
The sisters each testified by video-link. The younger sister said she had liked her stepfather “a teeny bit until he started pinching me”, as she described the assaults. She said that only on one occasion had she protested. “I was really, really fed up so I screamed in my bed and my mum said ‘What happened?’”. She had not complained at other times because: “I really don’t like telling of people”.
The family became aware of the abuse when one of the girls told an aunt, resulting in a confrontation with the stepfather, which was recorded and played for the court. The man, who his wife said was “religious on the outside but not on the inside”, protested his innocence in the recording. He said of the girls: “They’re not traumatised, they’re exaggerating”.
In court, he said he went into one of the girl’s room a few times only because he was hot. His lawyer argued that he could not have abused the sisters on Shabbat because he and his wife fulfilled the mitzvah of having marital relations and remained together all night.