By Tim Lamden, 7 March 2014, Ham&High.
A woman who suffered years of sexual abuse as a child feared she could be confronted in the street by her abuser after he launched a bid to be released from jail.
Yehudis Goldsobel, 28, who has waived her right to lifelong anonymity, told the Ham&High she had been left panicked after discovering Menachem Levy, 41, an Orthodox Jew, had appealed against his conviction and three-year prison sentence for sexual abuse.
The father-of-seven, of Princes Park Avenue, Golders Green, was jailed last June for abusing Ms Goldsobel over a six-year period, beginning when she was just 13.
But on Tuesday of last week, Levy, who was a friend of the victim’s Orthodox Jewish family, had his case at the Court of Appeal dismissed by three of the country’s top judges.
Speaking after the verdict, Ms Goldsobel said: “I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for bumping into him in the street. It saddened me to think this weekend I could bump into him in north west London.
“It’s all well and good that I’m an adult standing up now. But I was once a child and he ruined my childhood. We all have free choice to do what we do and he chose to do what he did and he ruined my childhood.”
Lawyers representing Levy, who was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and cleared of one count of rape last year, argued his convictions were “unsafe” because jurors were misdirected by the trial judge and were “pressured” into reaching verdicts.
His barrister, Tania Griffiths QC, also urged judges to reduce his jail term, claiming his sentence had had a “devastating effect” on his family and had resulted in him losing his business.
She told the court Levy has not yet seen his youngest child – born after he was jailed – and would miss the “critical date” of his eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah, unless his sentence was cut.
But judges Lord Justice Fulford, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Judge David Griffith-Jones QC, dismissed the appeal, insisting the convictions were safe and Levy’s sentence was appropriate, in light of the grave crimes he committed.
Ms Goldsobel said: “When I read the appeal it was about how he hasn’t met his two-month-old baby and how his family don’t deserve this.
“Of course I feel sympathetic to them because they didn’t do anything wrong either. When he did what he did he didn’t just ruin my life, he ruined his family’s life.”
Ms Goldsobel, who started charity Migdal Emunah two years ago, offering therapy and advice sessions for victims of childhood abuse, is now campaigning to make changes to the criminal justice system following her experience of the appeal system.
“All the people in the courtroom [in the original trial] were so particular to make sure it didn’t come to this,” she said. “Obviously there was some way for them to create an appeal which drags the victim back in. The fact that he can go through two trials and then an appeal means the whole thing went too far.
“The fact that any perpetrator can do that is dragging their victim back into their mess and that, for me, is heartbreaking.
“But that’s how this country works. It’s a criminal justice system, not a victim justice system.”
For more information about Ms Goldsobel’s charity, visit www.migdalemunah.com.