Police: Education Min. ignored warnings on pedophilic teacher

Police claim Education Min. was informed that substitute teacher had history of sexual assaults on children, but Ministry ignored warnings.

David Rosenberg ,

Shaul Shamai, 49, accused of sexually assaulting female students
Shaul Shamai, 49, accused of sexually assaulting female students

A substitute math teacher at a north Tel Aviv school was indicted Thursday for a string of sex crimes against underage female students.

Shaul Shamai, a 49-year old resident of Rishon Letzion, is accused of committing indecent acts on four second graders at the school where he worked as a substitute math teacher, as well as similar acts on a 13-year old private student he had been tutoring. A total of 11 students had filed complaints against Shaul, but only 5 were included in Thursday’s indictment.

Shamai worked as a substitute teacher at the school from October 2016 until earlier this month, when he was accused by students of molestation and sexual assault.

According to the indictment, Shamai would ask individual female students to remain in the classroom after class had ended. In each incident, Shamai would sit the student down on his lap and touch her in an explicitly sexual manner. Shamai did this even while in many cases the students objected and asked that he stop.

Shamai also committed indecent acts against the 13-year old student he was tutoring at least four times, all of them during study sessions at the victim’s home.

Shamai has denied the charges, claiming that his physical contact with the girls was limited to “fatherly hugs”.

“It was possible that while hugging, I accidentally touched them inappropriately,” said Shamai.

Shamai also claims that the principal of the school where he taught had okayed his request to hug students. The principal has denied Shamai’s claim.

According to a report by Channel 10, Shamai admitted to investigators that he had sat down female students on his lap, but insisted the touching was never sexual in nature.

“I sat down the girls on my knees a few times, and I know that that is against the Education Ministry’s regulations, but there was nothing sexual about it,” said Shamai, adding “I have a special onnection with my female students.”

The police department, Education Ministry, and school administrators have all come under criticism following the revelations regarding Shamai, who had already been accused of sex crimes against children at the time he was hired to work as a substitute teacher.

In February 2016, a 12-year old female student Shamai was tutoring accused him of sexual assault – more than half a year before he began working at the Tel Aviv school.

In October 2016, Shamai was hired as a teacher, despite his history of pedophilia and his lack of a teacher’s certificate. Three months later, Shamai was asked to bring a police record, showing that he had no past charges of crimes against minors.

Shamai was convicted in April 2017 following the complaint by the 12-year old student, yet remained as a teacher at the school until accusations by students there went public in June.

On Wednesday, however, police Chief Superintendent Iris Barak told a Knesset committee that authorities had informed the Education Ministry of Shamai’s criminal past, Channel 10 reported.

“Despite the fact that the information was laid out in front of them, they reached the decision that they did [to retain Shamai].”

“The information was requested by the Education Ministry and was received; what was done with it [the information] is not our responsibility.”