Israelis Convicted of Distributing Sex Video on WhatsApp

The Magistrate court (court of lowest instance) in Kfar-Saba (a town located Israel's center district) declined the request of two defendants to refrain from convicting them for distributing through WhatsApp video recordings of them having sex with the complainant (a minor).
The suspects in the case admitted to the offenses under the Protection of Privacy Law and Defamation Law. The indictment revealed that the defendants had consensual sex with the minor. On two different occasions, one of the defendants video-recorded the sexual conduct, without the knowledge of the complainant, and shared the video with the other defendant through WhatsApp. The latter forwarded the videos to another person, and the videos were ultimately distributed widely through WhatsApp, the Internet and even among students of the school where the complainant, who then attempted to commit suicide, attended.
Judge Michael Karshan stated the fundamental principle where, in the case of an adult offender, conviction is the rule and expunction of conviction is the exception. The judge held that the acts of the accused were hideous and harmful, as they severely violated the privacy and trust of the minor. The court also noted that photographing a person, without their knowledge, during a sexual act, is a gross invasion of privacy, even if the photographer himself participates in the act. It was also determined that the distribution of videos, initially by the first defendant to the second, subsequently from the second defendant to another person and ultimately distributed through the Internet, is an even more serious invasion of privacy as well as a criminal offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment. 
The Court rejected the contention that there was no severe violation due to the complainant’s consent to the sexual act, and ruled for the State’s position that distribution of harmful videos through the Internet and social media is a continually growing phenomenon, and it is clear that the public-at-large, or parts thereof, do not consider the potential violations of rights, offended feelings and even the safety of the person being photographed or filmed, often, against their will. The Court emphasized that convicting the accused will also serve the need to address to the general public the fundamental norms and rules regarding invasion of privacy through the Internet and social media.
The Court convicted the defendants on the offenses they admitted to, despite the detrimental affect the conviction and the entry in their criminal record might have on their future. They were sentenced to 3 months’ probation, community service (180 hours for Defendant No. 1 and 80 hours Defendant No. 2) as well as a fine of 10,000 NIS each to be transferred, at the request of the complainant, to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center. Click here for the full decision (in Hebrew, decided November 16, 2015).