Police have revived an earlier effort to convince the former housekeeper of MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnuah) to answer questions about claims Sheetrit sexually harassed her, but the housekeeper is not cooperating.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed police this week to make their latest attempt. Weinstein and the police have been under pressure to examine the allegations since Channel 10 reported earlier this month, just after Sheetrit lost the presidential election to Reuven Rivlin, that he had reached a 270,000 shekel ($78,466) severance agreement with the housekeeper after she accused him of harassment.
The news report said police were aware of the accusation for about 18 months but have not pursued the case, adding that the generous agreement appeared geared toward buying the housekeeper’s silence.
Police promised the woman that she would suffer no harm if she answered police questions on the matter, but on the advice of her lawyer she refused, saying she did not know what they were talking about and that she was not a victim at any point.
The police will find it extremely difficult to investigate the case without the testimony of either the housekeeper or another complainant, or at least a reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed. It will be up to Weinstein to decide how to proceed at this stage.
The housekeeper was employed by Sheetrit and his wife Ruth for 16 months. In 2013, after she was fired, she threatened to sue the couple, claiming that both Sheetrits had done several things that infringed on her rights and employment terms.
The suit listed several incidents of sexual harassment and supplied evidence that appeared to corroborate her claims, Channel 10 said. It seems that the evidence included recordings of conversations she had with Meir Sheetrit.
The lawmaker reportedly contracted Nachum Feinberg, an attorney 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 the 270,000 shekels in exchange for her renunciation of 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, that party would have to pay the other 250,000 shekels.
Despite the agreement, the police heard of the case and detectives traced the complainant. But she refused to cooperate with them and would not give them any details. The detectives decided at the time not to pursue the case.
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