Court (illustrative)
Court (illustrative) Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbi Aminadav Krispin, 80, the former rabbi of the city of Kiryat Bialik, has been cleared of charges in a sexual harassment case.

Judge Ziyad Falah of the Haifa Magistrate’s Court moved to dismiss the charges following the revelation that the harassment case had been turned into a campaign of extortion aimed at Rabbi Krispin and his family.

The three women who complained against Rabbi Krispin were represented by Meir Otmazgin. Otmazgin made contact with the accused rabbi’s family and made various demands in a series of conversations, some of which were caught on tape.

Otmazgin was heard demanding hundreds of thousands of shekels from the rabbi’s family, and promising that if they gave him the money, the sexual harassment charges would be dropped. He warned that for every day that they did not give him the money, he would demand an additional 10%.

In addition, he demanded that in exchange for the charges being dropped, relatives of Rabbi Krispin who were employed by the local Rabbinate and Religious Affairs Council would quit their jobs – and that he would be given a say in choosing who would be hired in their place.

Judge Falah called Otmazgin’s behavior “outrageous,” and noted that according to the representative’s own version of events, “he exploited the situation for his personal gain.”

“This behavior casts a heavy cloud over the very occurrence of the events described, for which Otmazgin sought to impose financial and other sanctions,” he continued, noting, “It is not clear how financial compensation would have cancelled out behavior that the complainants described as ‘awful’ and ‘intolerable,’ or why [they would demand] a ban on the rabbi’s relatives.”

“This gives rise to fear in my heart that certain parties may be seeking to ‘close accounts’ with the accused for personal gain, and that the complainants have become a ‘playing card’ in the hands of these parties,” he wrote.

Falah concluded that the fact that the witnesses for the prosecution had banded together and appointed a representative to negotiate with the accused man’s family constituted a contamination of evidence in the case.

While Falah did not accuse the witnesses of lying, he stated that Rabbi Krispin’s testimony appeared believable.

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