Dr. Georges Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from suburban Allentown, Pa., has been charged with attempted aggravated murder in connection with an alleged assault on his son-in-law, Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer of Cleveland Heights.
Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle, is in a custody battle with Hoffer which is in the domestic relations division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The couple has a daughter, Lila, who will turn 2 on Oct. 25. Lila lives with her mother in Florida.
Danielle Bensimhon once served as cantor of Congregation Bethaynu in Pepper Pike.
Hoffer was on his way to visit Lila when the incident occurred. He lives with Adina, 7, his daughter by first wife Rachel Hoffer. She died of cancer Sept. 12, 2007.
According to Cleveland Heights police reports, Hoffer was about to travel to Florida when Bensimhon attacked him with a pry bar early in the morning of Sept. 4. Alerted by a rustling in the bushes, Hoffer turned to encounter Bensimhon, who hit him in the forehead, according to police reports.
According to police reports, Hoffer awoke at 5 a.m., showered and texted Adina’s nanny to come over. He grabbed a packed bag and walked out his back door to load it into his car. On his way back inside, two steps past the gate separating the back yard from the fence, he heard footsteps behind him.
“He turned around and was struck in the head by a blunt object,” police reports said. His assailant was dressed in black and wore a mask, Hoffer was struck several more times and a struggle ensued during which he was bitten often.
“Seth stated once he gained control of the suspect, the suspect yelled ‘Alan, get off me! I can’t breathe! Seth stated he then identified the suspect as Georges Joseph Bensimhon, his father-in-law. At this point, neighbors called 9-1-1 and police soon arrived.”
Bensimhon was arrested Sept. 4 in connection with the attack on Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at University Hospitals, with his tape-wrapped weapon only to be pinned by his intended victim. Hoffer is 39 years old, stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 220 pounds. Bensimhon is 66 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds.
“We are reviewing the case for possible presentation to the grand jury,” a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said Sept. 10.
According to the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court docket, a preliminary hearing in the case is set for 1:35 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. Bensimhon faces additional felony charges of breaking and entering, drug possession and possession of criminal tools, and a misdemeanor charge of possessing drug paraphernalia.
A native of Fez, Morocco, Bensimhon posted $500,000 bond hours after his arrest, according to local law enforcement authorities who are working with their counterparts in South Whitehall Township, the Allentown suburb where Bensimhon lives.
Police reports said Bensimhon drove an employee’s car to Cleveland Heights to attack Hoffer. A 2008 Nissan belonging to Kenneth Patton of Allentown was found in the parking lot of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library on Lee Road, police said.
Danielle Bensimhon of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., surrendered her father’s Israeli and U.S. passports to Cleveland Heights police Sept. 5 as a condition of his bond. She has not made a formal statement to police.
Bensimhon’s lawyer, Brian Murray, could not be reached for comment. Bensimhon could not be reached for comment. Alan Hoffer could not be reached for comment.
Hoffer’s mother, Joyce Hoffer, said she would not comment on advice of her attorney.
According to reports, police found syringes, hypodermic needles, injection-ready sedatives, money, keys and a black mask and hood when they arrived at the Hoffer house on Dellwood Road just before 6 a.m. Sept. 4.
They had received a “disturbance call” and encountered numerous neighbors on their way to Hoffer’s back yard, police said.
“Officers were advised that a male was bleeding heavily and yelling for help,” said one report. “Officers were also advised that another male was being detained on scene, believed to be the suspect, in the backyard of that address.
According to another of the six police reports, “I noticed a male face down in the drive dressed all in black with a black tactical mask and blue surgical gloves. The gloves were torn on the tops and a small pool of blood was forming in the drive. Standing about five feet from the suspect I notice Seth A. Hoffer… Seth reported he was leaving his house when the male on the ground jumped out from behind some bushes and attacked Seth. I requested the camera to take photos and as soon as I did this the suspect removed his hood and started attempting to hide it.”
According to another report, Hoffer, his face, neck and arms covered in blood, was “on top of the suspect’s back, holding him down.”
Georges Joseph Bensimhon was on his stomach, his left arm bent at a 90-degree angle, his right arm straight out. “Georges took his mask off and asked ‘Can I sit up? My arm is broken.’”
Hoffer was taken to University Hospitals, while Bensimhon was taken to Cleveland Clinic.
The incident was reported Sept. 7 by www.thecrimebeat.com.