The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday accepted the state’s appeal and convicted retired Police Major General Niso Shaham, 61, of breach of trust and sexual harassment. Shaham’s appeal of his conviction for an indecent act was rejected.
The District Court debated as an appellate court the ruling issued by Judge Benny Sagi in Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court. Sagi acquitted Shaham of most of the charges against him and convicted him of a lone misdemeanor offense: an indecent act against a policewoman. According to Judge Sagi’s verdict, while Shaham and the policewoman were inside his vehicle, he kissed her warmly against her will and later tried to kiss her again. Sagi sentenced Shaham to an astonishingly light 240 hours of community service and six months’ probation.
The prosecution argued on appeal that “Shaham’s conduct in every one of the charges – from exploiting his status to forging intimate relationships with his subordinate female officers, to his engaging in conflict of interest situations with those same female officers – seriously damaged the policewomen’s human dignity, their freedom of movement against the desires of a superior officer, and their right to make their personal choices completely autonomously.”
According to the prosecution, the Magistrate’s Court erred in ignoring the impact of said conduct as well as Shaham’s severe violation of protected values through his offense of fraud and breach of trust, most notably the defendant’s harm to the public’s trust in the authorities.
This criticism of Major General Shaham probably came as no surprise to the men and women who faced him 14 years ago, in the summer of 2005, when Shaham was attached to the special combined headquarters of the police and the IDF, which was preparing to carry out the planned “disengagement” from the Gush Katif region in the Gaza Strip.
In July of 2005, a month before the forced expulsion of some 8,000 Jews by force, Shaham commanded police forces at the Kfar Maimon clashes, during which tens of thousands of Israeli citizens who objected to the exile gathered. In the course of events, Shaham ordered the Border Guard commander to use open violence against the demonstrators. He used crude and vile expressions, which—since there is some justice left in our world—were picked up by a Channel 10 camera crew and aired on the Friday night news.
Following the broadcast and the consequent media storm, Shaham expressed regret for his remarks and was removed from the disengagement administration. He faced a disciplinary hearing before Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi on charges of profanity and misconduct by a police officer, and was given a severe reprimand and a fine in the amount of six days’ pay.
In July 2007, Shaham was appointed deputy commander of the Jerusalem District, after the High Court of Justice had rejected a petition against his appointment.
Yes, your defenders of democracy in action…
In May 2011, Shaham was appointed Commander of the Jerusalem District, and right then, when he seemed to have been able to bury all his skeletons in the closet, on July 26, 2012, Shaham was ordered to take a forced leave after being investigated with a warning on suspicion of committing sex offenses.
A month later, he announced his resignation from his job, and on October 28, 2013, Shaham was fired from the ranks of the Israeli police by Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich (Israel Beiteinu), on the recommendation of then Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.
Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
District Judge Miriam Diskin on Monday stated in her ruling that “the huge gap between Shaham and the eight policewomen, in terms of age, status, authority and command, served as a fertile ground for growing the weeds of abuse of rank. The law against breach of trust is designed to prevent exactly such cases.”
Judge Gilia Ravid noted that “an overall look at Shaham’s behavior reveals a harsh picture and a pattern of extremely problematic behavior.” She added: “Shaham has taken advantage of the workplace and his senior role in creating those intimate relationships which were mainly intended to satisfy his sexual needs and desires.”
And stay out!