5--An Israeli rabbi was convicted today of fondling a female passenger on a
recent flight from Tel Aviv to
Gavriel Bidany, a 47-year-old father of 11, was found guilty this
afternoon in U.S. District Court in
The verdict was rendered following a two-day bench trial before Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes. Bidany, an Israeli citizen, faces a maximum of six months in prison when he is sentenced by Reyes on May 12. In reading the verdict at 2 PM, Reyes called the victim's testimony "compelling and wholly believable," while dismissing the testimony of Bidany, pictured above, as "not worthy of belief."
As she initially told FBI agents, the molestation victim, a 23-year-old Israeli Army officer, testified yesterday that Bidany twice fondled her on the trans-Atlantic flight. Bidany, seated next to the woman, first placed his hand under a blanket on her lap and groped her genital area. When the woman “jumped back,” Bidany “quickly removed his hand from her groin.”
Minutes later, the woman testified, Bidany again reached under her blanket, and this time groped her breasts. The victim, who commands a missile defense unit, has a “substantial number of soldiers serving under her charge” and is “currently deployed in a front-line role,” according to a court filing.
The woman told the FBI that when she confronted Bidany, he claimed, “It’s a mistake, I’m asleep.” She then reported the incident to Delta flight crew members, who later told FBI agents that the woman was "visibly shaken and frantic."