Katsav rape trial records: Victim feared ex-President's 'mafia'
Friend of main Katsav trial plaintiff, A. of the Tourism Ministry, says victim told him that the former President 'really raped her' in his Tel Aviv office.
Tel Aviv's District Court released the records of former President Moshe Katsav's rape and sexual assault trial on Thursday, which included the testimony of the police's chief investigator as well as that of a close associate of one of the former president's victims.
Katsav was convicted earlier this year on two counts of rape for indecent assault and sexual harassment of female employees, and was sentenced last month to seven years in jail. He was supposed to start serving his sentence on Sunday, May 8.
On Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court, delayed the start of the disgraced former president's jail sentence for rape until a ruling is reached on his request for a longer postponement, which will be heard next Wednesday.
In court records released on Thursday, Yaron Armoza, a friend of A. of the Tourism Ministry who urged her to file charges against the former president, is quoted as speaking of the woman's difficulty to come forward with her claims.
"She very much wanted to get back, I mean she wanted [the story] to get out, but not using her name. That someone else would talk about it, that someone else would tell the story, that it wouldn't be her at the front," Armoza said, adding that A. met with reporters, including Haaretz reporter Adar Primor, that told her that they could not publish the story without her filing a complaint, fearing a libel suit.
Armoza is also quoted in the records as saying that A. was "always very afraid of the people surrounding Katsav, describing it like some kind of mafia that's always there with him."
He spoke of the way A. referred to Uri Yoeli, Katsav's confident, that would later be taped urging the woman to lay off her intent to come forward the former saying he "was always in contact with her, and used to talk to her."
"She used to say this thing, 'you don't leave wounded in the field,' that she said Yoeli used to tell her," Armoza added.
Armoza also spoke of A.'s experience of Katsav's assaults, saying: "She told me 'remember that incident that I told you [took place] in the office, I really, he really had sex with me there, he really raped me, he forced me to the ground and penetrated me.'"
"She already told me that after our the conversation with Shelly [Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich], but then she also spoke in reference to the incident in the apartment, that he tried to really assault her there too, and wasn't able, and there was some kind of argument and he left.
MK Shelly Yachimovich met A. through Armoza, and was one of the witnesses in the Katsav case. Yachimovich said in her testimony at the trial that she has "no doubt that Katsav is a sexual deviant."
She told of how Armoza called her and asked her to meet with A., to help her and cheer her up. "She was embarrassed," said the Labor MK, adding "she was afraid of the reactions [if she disclosed the truth], asking how she could dare to tarnish the reputation of such a high-up member of the Likud party. She felt isolated."
Yachimovich also discussed the process that A. underwent before she was ready to press charges, relating how long it took her to be able to say "I was raped."
On Katsav's early advances, Armoza said that "at first she told me he hit on her with compliments, 'you look very nice,' 'you look good,' really complemented her in a way that made her feel uncomfortable."
"Later he began molesting her verbally, like 'I think of you at night a lot,' 'I dream of you at night,' 'let's become a couple.' She told me he also started to touch here and there…asking her to come with a blouse and to open the top button, to wear more dresses," the friend told the court.
Armoza, told the court that sometime in 1999, A. of the Tourism Ministry told him that Katsav arrived at her home. "I thought it was very strange that a boss would come to his employee's house. She didn't detail what had happened at the time, that he had forced her to the ground, really tried to assault, that was in the Tel Aviv office."
Also speaking of Uri Yoeli's influence within the President's Residence, the records also quote Israel Police chief interrogator Yoav Segalovitch, who said of Yoeli that he was "a thread running through the case: he's found in certain parts regarding A. from the Tourism Ministry, he's in other parts of the investigation's periphery, and he's in the President's Residence."
"He's knowledgeable, experienced, knows his way around, he knows everything, and has no formal position anywhere…. He's like a member of the President's household; he even printed his business card in the President's Office or something like that," Segalovitch added.
Segalovitch rejected accusations made by Katsav's defense team, that police investigators had been leaking details of the investigations to the media.
"There were leaks originating from a great variety of sources, but I say this here: there were no leaks [originating] from the investigations' team," he said, reiterating, however, that leaks indeed occurred.
"You need to understand something: investigations of this type - the ability to maintain a completely sealed house - is almost impossible," Segalovitch claimed, accusing Katsav's lawyers of leaking themselves.
"I heard the distinguished lawyers interview over the leaks and then leak themselves without missing a heartbeat, the police official said.