Driver
The prime minister's former driver, Ilan Shmuel,, with police on Thursday. Photo by Emil Salman
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A driver in the Prime Minister’s Office was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting nine girls, possibly as young as 6, over the course of several years.

The details of the arrest three weeks ago of Ilan Shmuel, 52, were revealed after Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Dorit Feinstein lifted a gag order Thursday protecting the suspect’s identity. Police asked that the order be lifted because they suspect that Shmuel, of Moshav Zacharia near Beit Shemesh, may have assaulted additional girls.

The suspect used to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal chauffeur. He was employed as a substitute driver in the Prime Minister’s Office until three years ago when the Shin Bet security service received information about sexual offenses that Shmuel had allegedly committed against a minor girl, which led Beit Shemesh Police to investigate and indict him. Shmuel was subsequently transferred from his job as a chauffeur in the prime minister’s entourage to a position in the drivers’ department of the PMO.

About three weeks ago the Jerusalem Police received new information that prompted a new investigation involving nine complainants, all of whom were apparently aged 6 to 9 when the crimes were allegedly committed. The girls told police that Shmuel had raped and sodomized them.

“There is a reasonably strong suspicion that the respondent committed the crimes of indecent assault, rape and sodomy attributed to him over several decades, against at least nine complainants,” said Judge Feinstein. “Testimony was taken from eight complainants.”

Shmuel’s defense attorney Shai Levy said in response: “The suspect’s emotional state is very grave. He is dealing with the complaints in the interrogation room. Not one of the complainants presented these things to his face. We will spell out the rest of our claims – and there are such claims - in court.”