A generous severance agreement that presidential candidate MK Meir Sheetrit reached with his housekeeper was signed after she had accused him of sexual harassment, Channel 10 News reported last night. The news report said police were aware of the accusation a year-and-a-half ago, but did not pursue it.
The housekeeper was employed by Sheetrit and his wife Ruth for a year and four months. In 2013, after she was fired, she filed a suit against the couple, claiming that both Sheetrit and his wife had done several things that infringed on her rights and employment terms.
The suit listed several incidents of sexual harassment and supplied evidence that apparently corroborated her claims, Channel 10 said.
Sheetrit reportedly contracted attorney Nahum Feinberg, who specializes in labor law, to conduct swift negotiations with the housekeeper. The negotiations concluded in a settlement, under which the Sheetrits would pay the housekeeper 270,000 shekels and in exchange she would renounce any claim or future suit against them, Channel 10 said.
Both sides undertook to keep the severance settlement secret and stipulated that if either party breaks the secrecy terms, they would have to pay the other 250,000 shekels.
Despite the agreement, the police heard of the case and detectives traced the complainant. She refused, however, to cooperate with them and would not give them any details. The detectives decided not to pursue the case, Channel 10 said.
A few weeks ago, following reports that Sheetrit had signed a secret agreement with his former housekeeper, he was asked directly by Labor leader MK Isaac Herzog whether he had done anything wrong against the housekeeper. Sheetrit replied that he had not.
But Sheetrit did not tell Herzog about the settlement’s content and about the housekeeper’s accusations, Channel 10 said.
A statement issued by Sheetrit’s cronies last month said Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had looked into the case at the time the suit was filed against Sheetrit and found it was unsubstantial. However, the Justice Ministry spokesman said yesterday that the attorney general only heard of the case some two weeks ago.
Commenting on reports about the severance agreement last month, Sheetrit said, “it grieves me to see how low political rivals in the [presidential] race can stoop. Anyone conducting a mudslinging campaign is not worthy of being president,” he said.
The Cassuto-Nof law firm representing Sheetrit commented: “No police investigation has ever been opened against MK Sheetrit. MK Sheetrit has never been asked to testify or address the false claims. It has never been considered, even implicitly, to take any criminal step against MK Sheetrit.”
Attorney Oded Gil, who represents the housekeeper, refused to comment.
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