Convicted of sexually blackmailing" and performing "licentious acts" with women who sought his counsel in a synagogue. Pardes was sentenced to six months in prison and given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and fined 25,000 shekels ($12,500).
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Table of Contents:
- Rabbi Named in Sex-For-Divorce Scandal (12/04/1989)
- Police Interrogate Rabbinical Court Judges About Sex-Bribe Allegations (12/05/1989)
- Police and Thieves (12/15/1989)
- D.A. Gets Sex-Case File Against TA Rabbi (01/11/1990)
- Top Of The News - World (12/07/1990)
- Rabbi Starts 6 Months in Jail for Sex Abuse (01/01/1992)
- Prosecutors Joins MK's Plea to Discipline Judge (05/23/1992)
by Andy Goldberg and Haim Shapiro
The Jerusalem Post - December 4, 1989
TEL AVIV - Rabbi Haim Pardes, head of the local rabbinical court, is facing a police investigation into suspicions that he asked a woman for sexual favour in order to speed up her divorce proceedings.
Police are still waiting for permission from Attorney-General Yosef Harish to interrogate Pardes, as Pardes has the legal standing of a district court judge. The initial finding of the police investigation were transferred to Harish's office late last week.
The national fraud squad has already interrogated people connected with the allegations against Pardes, including two senior clerks of the court and the woman he allegedly approached.
Police believe that Pardes had been dealing with the woman's divorce case for some seven years when he suggested to her that they meet alone in a room at a North Tel Aviv synagogue. In return he promised to speed up the courts' treatment of her divorce proceedings.
The woman apparently recorded her conversations with Pardes and afterwards used the tape to force him to accelerate treatment of her case and to blackmail him.
Rabbinical circles expressed shock over the allegations.
Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, director of the rabbinical courts, told The Jerusalem Post yesterday that no action would be taken against Pardes at this stage. It was not necessary to suspend a rabbinical court judge unless he had actually been charged with a crime, Ben-Dahan said.
According to the daily Yediot Ahronot, which first broke the story, Rabbi David Einhorn, assistant director of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, was also suspected of accepting bribes.
By Andy Goldberg
The Jerusalem Post - December 5, 1989
The rabbinical court judge at the centre of a sex-for-divorce scandal was interrogated for seven hours yesterday by officers of the Jaffa-based National Fraud Division.
Rabbi Haim Pardess, 54, was released on his own recognizance after the interrogation and praised his investigators for "their fair and correct treatment."
The police are investigating allegations that Pardess solicited sexual favours from women in return for speeding up treatment of their divorce proceedings. One woman told officers last month that Pardess had been dealing with her divorce case for about seven years when he suggested that they meet alone in a room he had at his disposal at a local synagogue. In return for such a meeting, he promised to expedite the court's handling of her divorce. The woman apparently recorded her conversations with Pardess and afterwards used the tape to force him to expedite her case and to blackmail him for NIS 20,000.
Officers have already questioned several persons connected with the allegations against Pardess.
Pardess's attorney, Dr. Ya'acov Weinroth, told The Jerusalem Post that his client had cooperated fully with the police. He did not know whether Pardess would be summoned for further questioning. He said that the police did not have in their possession any tape recording that incriminated Pardess.
Rabbinical court judges have the legal standing of district court judges, whose interrogation is permitted only with the approval of the attorney-general. Yosef Harish granted this approval in Pardess's case on Sunday.
"I am very happy that I have had the opportunity to give my version of events and explode the baseless allegations against me," Pardess told Kol Yisrael radio after his interrogation.
He was highly critical of the press for publishing the story and his identity before he had been charged. He told reporters that he planned to continue working as usual despite the allegations and said he hoped that "with God's help the truth will out."
Jerusalem Post - December 15, 1989
The police probe into suspected corruption at the Tel Aviv rabbinical court has not stopped at the sexual favours allegedly demanded by the court's chief, Rabbi Haim Pardes, in return for the speedy handling of divorce cases. In addition, the Jaffa-based Fraud Division is checking out suspicions that court clerks also accepted bribes related to cases.
To date, three women have lodged complaints against Pardes, two of them claiming that he sexually assaulted them after luring them into a room in a Rehov Frishman synagogue saying that he would expedite their divorce requests.
Police sources say the investigation has yielded indications of corruption on a far wider scale than initially believed, and that numerous court workers would be interrogated.
Details of a daring operation deep in Lebanon by officers of the elite Tel Aviv Central Unit were disclosed this week in a star-studded Mann Auditorium variety show celebrating the unit's 30th anniversary.
In late 1987, Eli Arazi, a top underworld figure, reported to police that he had been hired to transfer some two tons of hashish and heroin from Lebanon to Israel. Despite suspecting a hostage-taking trap by terrorists, detectives of the central unit and the anti-terror group manned the drug-running ship. The drugs were transferred to the ship near Jounieh and brought to Israel where they were transferred to four men who were meant to deliver them to the buyers. On the way from the port, however, the vehicle broke down. Police arrested the couriers but never caught up with the drug's buyers.
A drug-dealer was sentenced to seven years in jail by the Tel Aviv district court after one of his clients turned state's witness and tape-recorded two drug transactions. Every week, for some nine months, the dealer, Yoav Lavi, 29, of Bat Yam, supplied 30-50 grams of cocaine and heroin to a man named Shlomo. The cocaine cost $70 per gram and the heroin $250. When Shlomo was caught by police in possession of 30 grams of the drugs, he agreed to collect evidence in return for having the charges against him dropped.
Police outfitted him with a hidden microphone, and he recorded his next two meetings with Lavi. These recordings later formed the main part of the prosecution's case.
The Jerusalem Post - January 22, 1990
TEL AVIV - Police have transferred to the District Attorney's Office details of their investigation into complaints of sexual assault against Haim Pardes, the head rabbi of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court. The Jaffa-based National Fraud Division began investigating Pardes late last year after two women complained that he had promised to speed up treatment of their divorce cases in return for sexual favours.
In separate and unrelated complaints, the women charged that Pardes had invited them into a room in the Tel Aviv synagogue where he officiates and then indecently assaulted them. One woman claimed that Pardes had offered her NIS 20,000, if she did not report him to the police. Police investigators said that such an amount had been withdrawn from the rabbi's bank account.
Pardes continues to work as usual after having told police investigators in November that he had not committed the offences attributed to him. Pardes's status in the rabbinical court is equivalent to that of a district court judge and a decision to prosecute him can only be taken by order of the attorney general.
From Wire Dispatches and Staff Reports
The Washington Times - December 7, 1990
TEL AVIV, Israel - A court jailed a senior rabbi for six months yesterday after finding him guilty of "sexually blackmailing" women who sought his counsel and of having sexual relations in a synagogue, court sources said.
Rabbi Haim Pardes, chief of Tel Aviv's rabbinical tribunal, committed "licentious acts" with women who appeared before him and he confessed to having sexual relations in a synagogue, according to the sources.
He was also given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and fined 25,000 shekels ($12,500) for "shamefully taking advantage of his judicial status and of the distress of the women who appeared before him." Rabbinical tribunals in Israel are charged with marital affairs and conversions to Judaism.
Shulat Aloni, a lawmaker for the Civil Rights Party, argued that the sentence against Rabbi Pardes was too lenient. Mrs. Aloni called for a review by the high court.
By Michael Rotem
The Jerusalem Post - January 1, 1991
TEL AVIV - The former chairman of the local rabbinical court convicted of sexually abusing women is to start his prison term today.
A court here rejected Rabbi Haim Pardes's offer to do community service work, instead of going to prison, as a part of a plea bargain.
Pardes was sentenced on December 6 by a district court here to imprisonment and fined after being convicted of committing obscene sexual acts, fraud and breach of trust.
The sentence was handed down after a plea bargain was accepted. In return for his confessing to having committed the obscene sexual acts, Pardes was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, an 18-month suspended sentence and a fine of NIS 25,000.
In its original verdict, the court decided that the rabbi would do community service.
The offer made by the special comissioner of community service to the court was that Pardes would work arranging and translating holy texts in a library for the blind. The judges, however, objected, saying that this work "was suitable for a high school student on vacation."
In one of the cases on which Pardes was convicted, he met with a mother of two daughters in his chamber to discuss her alimony claim. During one of their meetings, he sexually molested her.
A source in the Prison's Authority said yesterday there was no decision on where the rabbi would serve his term.
PROSECUTOR JOINS MK'S PLEA TO DISCIPLINE JUDGE
The Jerusalem Post - May 23, 1991
In an unusual move, the State Prosecutor's Office yesterday supported MK Yair Tsaban's petition asking the High Court of Justice to order that the pension of Rabbi Haim Pardes, president of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court sentenced to six months in prison for indecent acts, bribery and violating a trust, be stopped and that he be brought before a disciplinary hearing.
After the State Prosecution's move, the High Court issued an order nisi instructing Pardes to show within 30 days why the decision of the judicial appointments committee which awarded him a pension should not be overturned and why the president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court has not fulfilled his responsibility to bring him before a disciplinary hearing.
In his petition, Tsaban said that it was obvious that a judge convicted of such serious offenses should face a disciplinary hearing. Pardes, he noted, managed to avoid this by resigning his position when the charges were brought against him. He also maintained that he should not have been granted any pension, let alone the same one as judges who honorably retired from the bench.
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