A young woman who said she had been sexually assaulted Friday night refused yesterday to confront her alleged attacker, a security officer for the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who is under arrest. The woman was summoned yesterday to Yarkon District police station, but shortly after arriving, told police she did not want to be in the same room with the suspect and hurriedly left the building, accompanied by family members.

Nevertheless, the investigating team said they had enough evidence connecting the suspect to the attempted rape, without the confrontation with the young woman or a line-up.

Police are basing their case on reports by passers-by who saw the man fleeing the scene of the attack on the banks of the Yarkon River, near the Tel Aviv Port complex.

Police questioned the suspect yesterday for several hours. He was reportedly cool for most of the time, but occasionally lashed out at his interrogators, chief inspectors Kobi Getenyo and Chief Inspector Asaf Zweig.

"I can't believe I am in this situation," the officer, who is reportedly highly regarded, was quoted as saying. "I've gone through a lot of complex jobs in my life, but I never thought I'd be in something like this. This isn't me."

His attorneys, Benyamin Nahari and Keren Nahari, continued to deny their client was involved in the attack.

Getenyo ordered that the bruises on the suspect's face and body be examined by a doctor in an attempt to correlate them to the young woman's description of the struggle.

Police say the man they have in custody is the perpetrator, but his family and colleagues on the chief of staff's security detail say they cannot believe it. "Everyone here is in shock ... I very much hope it turns out not to be him, because he is very highly regarded," a fellow bodyguard said yesterday.

Nahari said yesterday, "If it happened, and I don't believe it did because I believe him and he denies it, then it's a strange case. He's not a drinker. Maybe they put something in his drink."

The victim's attorney, Hedva Baum, said yesterday following her client's testimony to police, "it's very difficult to talk to her. She's trembling. She's beginning to realize what happened." She said the woman was a student, who had served in the army and is from a military family, "the salt of the earth."

Baum said she was "glad there are young women like that in Israel, who know how to keep their cool, and glad there are people who help and understand, like those who heard her screaming and saved her from almost certain rape, and perhaps worse." Baum said her client wanted to thank the people who helped catch the suspect.

Baum said her client had been out visiting friends, and when she returned to her car, the man, who had apparently been following her, pulled her out of the car and dragged her into the bushes, took her clothes off, choked her, scratched her and threatened to kill her. She said the young woman did not know the suspect, and that she had told her family and friends what had happened.

"It's infuriating that the guy is not taking responsibility, not trying to improve his situation, but is trying to build himself up on a potential mistake [in the investigation]. She would very much like him to be punished to the full extent of the law," Baum said.