Tel Aviv, Israel
|Criminal penalty||35 years imprisonment|
Sela grew up in the Hatikva Quarter, an impoverished neighborhood of Tel Aviv, and as a young boy, witnessed his alcoholic father commit suicide by jumping off an electric pole. He subsequently entered foster care. His case later entered the textbook of Israeli social work education as an example of severe failures in his foster care as a teenager.
Israeli authorities believe Sela committed his first rape in 1985, when as a teenage boarder at kibbutz Sha'ar HaGolan, he lured a female boarder into the bomb shelter, then locked her in, beat and stabbed her with a pocketknife, and raped her, then threatened to kill her if she told anyone.
According to police, Sela committed at least 24 and possibly as many as 34 rapes, sexual assaults, and sexual molestations of women and girls over the course of five years. Sela would break into their homes, usually late at night or in the early morning. Sela forced his victims to shower afterward to reduce physical evidence, and threatened to kill them if they left the shower before half an hour had passed. To avoid identification, he would attack and then rape his victims from behind, ensuring that they would only get glimpses of him. In three instances, he videotaped his victims and threatened to publish the tape on the internet or give it to their friends if they reported the crime. Sela's crimes gained notoriety, and he became known as the "Tel Aviv rapist". Sela was first arrested in 1995 and sentenced to two years in prison for having systematically molested his cousin from the time she was eight to when she was fifteen. While awaiting trial, Sela made an attempt to escape. When he finished his two-year sentence, he resumed his rape spree.
Sela was arrested December 14, 1999 by police responding to reports of an attack on a young woman and an eight-year-old girl. Police noted that Sela's appearance matched descriptions of the Tel Aviv rapist, and during an investigation of his criminal record, it was noted that the Tel Aviv rapes had stopped while he was in prison. Detectives then took a DNA sample, which matched samples given by nine of the victims. Sela was indicted on 14 counts of rape, and under a plea bargain was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment. He is currently serving his sentence at Nitzan Prison in Ramla.
Escape and recapture
On November 24, 2006, Sela escaped while being transferred to a court hearing. After an Intensive search and a tip from a relative whom Sela had visited, he was recaptured December 8. There was controversy after pictures emerged of officers abusing and humiliating Sela after his capture.
He was sentenced to an additional 4 years in prison for offenses committed during his escape.
Life in prison
While imprisoned, Sela filed dozens of court motions every year, most of which focused on inconsequential issues and were rejected. Due to his persistent motions, he became known as a "serial appelant". The repeated motions put a burden on the authorities, as the Israel Prison Service was tasked with bringing him to each hearing and returning him to prison, a process that necessitated the presence of police and massive security due to Sela being considered a high escape risk. On 14 August 2011, the Beersheba District Court limited Sela to eight motions per year and imposed a NIS 70 fine on him for every motion rejected. Judge Shlomo Friedlander said that the decision was to prevent authorities from spending an unequal share of their resources on his appeals, which could deny other prisoners their rights.
In September 2015, Sela was suspected of raping his cellmate.
- Seri tecavüzcü hapisten kaçtı (in Turkish)
- Stoil, Rebecca Anna (November 26, 2006). "Benny Sela: A study in evil". Jerusalem Post.