"I never sinned. I never did anything bad to anyone. I never harassed. I never committed any indecent acts, and I certainly didn't assault or rape," former President Moshe Katsav told the Tel Aviv District Court during the trial that ended with his conviction on two counts of rape and other sex crimes against female subordinates.
Katsav's testimony was released for publication Sunday along with the rest of the defense testimony.
"I acted toward everyone with great respect, including toward women, especially toward women," Katsav stressed.
Throughout his testimony, Katsav denied the claims of the plaintiffs that he had committed sex crimes and sexual harassment. He claimed the plaintiffs were lying, and were libeling him for revenge.
He particularly excoriated the main plaintiff, A. from the Tourism Ministry, whom he was convicted of raping. "She's building the same tower of lies again," he said of her.
Of his relationship with A., Katsav said: "They were the type of relations you would expect between a minister and his bureau chief."
He confirmed that they would at times hold personal conversations but "these conversations never slid into the realm of the forbidden."
Katsav then went on to describe how the relationship started to become problematic. "She always wanted direct contact with me, she couldn't stand it when I sent her messages through others... And as time passed, her problematic personality became increasingly evident," he said.
"It only hit me that she had fallen in love with me when I read in one of the testimonies that someone said she always opened a button and put on makeup before coming into my office."
Katsav continued that after A. had spent a year as his bureau chief, "I came to the conclusion that she wasn't suitable and decided to fire her. Too many things had piled up, I had received too many complaints about her, from in the office and outside.
"I couldn't stand that the cleaning woman didn't want to clean the minister's office because of the abuse from A. of the Tourism Ministry," he said.
The former president denied the claim that he had fired A. because she refused his advances, and vehemently denied the claims that he had raped her in his Tel Aviv office and in a Jerusalem hotel.
"I was never with A. from the Tourism Ministry in a hotel, in any hotel, not in the Plaza Hotel and not on 17.6.98," Katsav said.
About the rape in his office that had taken place after an event held by the Persian Jewish community, he said, "It never happened. It never happened... I went straight from the park to Kiryat Malachi [his hometown]."
Katsav also denied committing an indecent act against A. in her apartment. "To this day, I don't know where she lives," he said. "She invited me a few times to have a cup of coffee at her place, but I never went."
In addition to the two counts of rape and sexual offenses against A. of the Tourism Ministry, Katsav was also convicted of committing sexual offenses against L. and H. at the President's Residence.
He denied ever hugging either of them against their will or making suggestive remarks to them, describing H. as "a very nice girl" and saying he wanted to set her up with his son, Noam.
"I would have liked to have seen her as my daughter-in-law," Katsav said, later adding, "No fingernail of mine ever touched any forbidden place, not of H.'s or of L.'s."
During his cross-examination, prosecutor Nissim Merom repeatedly confronted Katsav with examples of lies and half-truths that emerged from his testimony, and argued that the former president had deliberately misled the court and hidden substantive details.
At the beginning of his testimony, Katsav spoke about his term in office as president. "I'm proud of the first six years of my term. Of the seven years I served, six were intensive and successful," he said, going on to accuse the media of pursuing him.
"They would never spare me," Katsav said. "They were always, always looking for another slip, another fall."
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