An environment of humiliation, unwarranted sexual advances and fear; that is the way that A, the main witness in the rape trial of former President Moshe Katsav, described her working experience at the Ministry of Tourism in transcripts released for the first time on Sunday.
"In the very first days he was very nice," A. told the court, saying that a few days later "he had already begun complimenting me on my work… and then… a few more days later… he began saying that I have beautiful hair, that I look good… that I have a nice body, that I'm sexy, and compliments of that kind."
"Another week passes by… he would say that he missed me, that he was thinking of me when he left the office," A. went on to say, adding that the former president, then-tourism minister, told her that he wanted them to be like "Yitzhak and Kochi Mordechai [a former minister convicted of sexual assault, and his former wife]."
"I didn’t understand what he wanted, since he's a married man," A. said.
In her testimony, A. told of an instance in which the former president asked her if she used contraceptives, which prompted an embarrassed reaction on her part. "You don't know what to do," she told the judges, "all you want to do is bury yourself in the ground."
At first, A. said, "he made me feel that I was above everyone else, that no one compared to me," adding that the entire "coronation period" was about "three or four months long, something like that… up to six months."
In the preliminary stage there were, according to A.'s testimony, several instances in which he rubbrf against her, "It started with just a few small touches of the leg. After that he moved on to part of my behind- just a feel here and there, and I would shift around all the time."
Katsav continued, A. said, saying that she "tried to resist all the time… it was uncomfortable for me, unpleasant. I told him 'stop,' but not too many times." A. spoke of ten such occasions in her testimony.
Further on in her testimony, A. indicated that the former president requested that she come to work wearing a skirt, asking her to unbutton one button in her blouse. "I tried to get away, sometimes I was successful, sometimes not… sometimes I would unbutton, other times I wouldn't…. It's an uncomfortable, embarrassing feeling."
A. added that Katsav would touch her leg during car drives, and that he tried to touch her breast in his office, her pressing papers against her chest in order to evade his touch.
"He didn’t say 'If you don't do what I say I'll fire you' but it was always in the background. Always that imbalance between us…. Some things are said without words. And you depend on him, your livelihood depends on him, he gets to decide whether or not you will work there."
Katsav then began to call her at her home, conversations that "began as work-related and ended on other subjects." During those calls the former president asked her to lie on her bed, take off her blouse, take off her underpants. "I couldn’t hang up on him," she said, "he's [my] boss."
When Katsav found out that A. was living alone he began inviting himself to her apartment. "I tried to get out of it, telling him that a friend of mine was on her way over, all kinds of evasive attempts, not all of which I remember. I didn’t want him to come. I wasn't successful."
A. then drove with the former president to her house, worrying whether or not her neighbors would spot them. "What was he doing coming with me to my apartment… People talk. I didn’t want to, it's my reputation… He'd take rolled up documents to make it seem like he was coming to work."
Once the two reached A.'s apartment, the former president advanced on her in an attempt to touch her chest. "He began coming closer and tried to put his hand on my chest…so I backed away until I hit the closet… there was nowhere to run to… me with my back to the closet… and then he pulled against me and put his hand on my chest and I pushed him away."
Four months into her job, A. accompanied the then tourism minister to a function in central Israel, at the end of which Katsav asked A. to escort him back to his Tel Aviv office where he had misplaced something.
As soon as they arrived, Katsav commenced trying to touch A. "He kept trying to take off my pants…. I had pants with a rubber belt and he kept pulling them down. That's when I started fighting him. He would pull down and I would pull up. Him pulling, me too," the tearful A. told the judges.
"It was a kind of a struggle, and then I tried to get away…running from the chair…I reached the point where I was actually sitting on the seat's edge…him pulling and me too…I found myself sitting, lying down, not yet completely lying on the floor, I don’t remember if he pushed me, or if I fell because I was sitting so close to the edge…I just remember being on the floor."
"Eventually he managed to take off my pants…he pulled them all the way, with my underwear…. They were still partially there, that's what I remember, since I don't remember looking for them afterwards…. I kept struggling and saying I don't want this, stop, using little words not shouts, stop it, I'm not interested, I don't want it, I tried to resist [him] with my body."
Katsav then raped her, as A. testified, saying she was afraid of "getting pregnant…that made me even more nervous…and I don't remember exactly how it ended."
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