Former Netanyahu Senior Aide Accused of Sexually Assaulting Woman

The suspect, who has close ties with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, was questioned by the police and was released to five days of house arrest, Channel 2 reports.

Left to right: Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Netanyahu and the former senior aide.
Left to right: Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Netanyahu and the former senior aide. Mark Israel Salem

A former senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under investigation over the past month and a half on suspicion that he sexually assaulted a woman. He is currently under house arrest.

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The former aide, who has close ties with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, was questioned under caution on Tuesday, meaning that he is considered a criminal suspect. He was then released to five days of house arrest. The story was first reported on Channel 2.

According to the television report, the aide offered the woman, who was a performer at a conference he had attended, a ride home to the city where they both lived. The woman sat next to him in the back seat of the car, and he plied her with alcohol against her will and touched her. He allegedly also took her to an apartment where there were other men, and tried to kiss her against her will and refused to allow her to leave, Channel 2 reported.

The official's lawyer, Gill Friedman, called the complaint baseless and said that the investigation would prove that.

Other senior associates of Netanyahu's have over the years been implicated in allegations of misconduct as well. In January 2012, scandal erupted involving the prime minister's chief of staff at the time, Natan Eshel. The matter surfaced when three officials in the Prime Minister's Office alerted then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to sexual harassment allegations against Eshel by a female member of the office staff.

The allegations were brought to Weinstein's attention by then-Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, by Yoaz Hendel, the director of communications and public diplomacy and by military secretary Yohanan Locker. According to reports, Eshel accessed the woman's emails and text messages, followed her and took sexually explicit pictures of her. Eshel denied the allegations and the woman refused to file a complaint or testify against him. Ultimately, however, a plea agreement was reached in which Eshel admitted to unbecoming conduct. He resigned and committed not to rejoin the public service.

In another case, about a year ago, it was reported that a senior aide to Netanyahu, Ari Harow, was being investigated on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust relating to the period during which he was the prime minister's chief of staff, amid allegations that Harow had a conflict of interest relating to a consulting firm that he owned.

And then in June, police recommended charging Perach Lerner, another senior adviser to the prime minister, on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.