7-year-old victim returns to school for first time since rape

Haredi student who was abducted and raped near her school heads back to class for the first time in 2.5 months. Will suspect be indicted?

David Rosenberg ,

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The seven-year-old haredi girl who was abducted from her school and raped went back to class Sunday, resuming her studies after a two-and-a-half month absence.

According to a report Sunday by the Israeli news site Walla, the girl returned to class today, after a roughly two-and-a-half month absence, following her abduction and rape.

Prosecutors and police are expected to decide by Tuesday whether to indict the suspect in the case, a resident of the Palestinian Authority town of Deir Qaddis, near the haredi city of Modi’in Illit.

If authorities decline to file the full indictment against the suspect, he will be released.

Last week, 46-year-old Palestinian Authority resident Mahmoud Nazmi Abed Alhamid Katusa was charged in a preliminary indictment by an Israeli military court of aggravated rape, after he was accused of abducting a seven-year-old girl from her school in a haredi city near Modi’in, taking her to a home that was under renovation, and raping her.

According to the indictment, Katusa – who worked at the school as a janitor and maintenance man - befriended the young girl, talking to her and giving her candies. One day, Katusa allegedly asked the girl to come with him to visit a nearby home where he was working.

When the girl refused, Katusa carried her off, taking her to the home in question, where he allegedly raped her, with the assistance of at least two other Arab workers, who, according to the indictment, held the girl’s arms and legs.

When the girl returned to school to identify the rapist, she pointed at Katusa, naming him as the attacker.

Police arrested Katusa, and after a lengthy investigation, including a polygraph test which Katusa failed, charged him with aggravated rape of a minor.

The case has been complicated, however, by questions regarding the handling of the investigation, which some say may have led to a false identification of the suspect.

According to one report, the suspect may not have been identified by the victim herself, but by her mother, who may have told her who to accuse.

When an investigator asked the girl if her mother told her to point out Katusa as the rapist, the girl responded by saying, “Yes, I pointed to him, because it was him.”

Some media outlets have suggested that the girl’s response raises doubts regarding the accuracy of her identification, while the investigator’s question has also come under fire as “leading” the girl to an affirmative response.

Channel 13 reported Saturday night that the victim’s father told police that his wife, the victim’s mother, had gone to the school and watched security camera footage before the family filed a complaint with police, in an attempt to identify the perpetrator.