Bar-Lev grilled after second woman complains of assault
Bar-Lev, the representative of the Israel Police in the U.S., returns to Israel and questioned for five hours regarding the two complaints.
Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev, the leading candidate to be next chief of the Israel Police, is being accused of sexual offenses involving a second woman, in addition to the initial complainant, a consultant to the Public Security Ministry who has been identified as O. The second complainant is being referred to by her first initial, M.
Bar-Lev, the representative of the Israel Police in the United States, reported to the offices of the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department in Jerusalem yesterday and was questioned for five hours regarding the two complaints. He answered all of the questions put to him and denied both women's accusations. Initially, he appeared to be surprised to learn that he was also under suspicion of improper conduct involving M., who had previously been friendly with O. The two women have a mutual woman friend who is thought to be close to Bar-Lev.
M., who lives in the north, filed her complaint last week after O. provided the Police Investigations Department with detailed testimony against Bar-Lev. The incident involving M. is alleged to have occurred more than four years ago, while O.'s allegations relate to events from more than two years ago.
Bar-Lev is said to have had difficulty recalling the events related to M.'s allegations due to the passage of time, but he denied his conduct in either case involved violence or force toward the women. He did not deny being in the presence of the women at the times alleged, but said his behavior was innocent in nature and adamantly denied that it involved a criminal offense. Bar-Lev was not given a lie detector test, but it is possible that one would be administered in the next several days.
Bar-Lev is being represented by Irit Baumhorn, a former senior Jerusalem-based prosecutor, who gained notoriety for her involvement in the criminal case against former President Moshe Katsav. She said Bar-Lev was confronted with O. and acknowledged that the two had gone out together, but said their time together was in no way sexual in nature. With regard to M., he said he had sexual relations with her five years ago, but they were consensual.
Before entering the interrogation room, Bar-Lev told waiting reporters: "I came to Israel [from the United States] at my own initiative, and I am not being advised by public relations agencies and a battery of lawyers. I am coming with my truth, and it will win out."
The Police Investigations Department has recently collected evidence indicating that at the time of the alleged incident involving Bar-Lev, M. recounted to acquaintances that he had sexually assaulted her. The department is expected to provide the police with the most important evidence it has gathered in the investigation, so that Police Commissioner David Cohen can make a decision, in coordination with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, as to whether Bar-Lev should be suspended from his position as police representative in the U.S. A senior police source told Haaretz that, following Bar-Lev's initial interrogation, and in light of the solid evidence presented in support of the allegations, there will be no alternative to suspending Bar-Lev.
Yesterday Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said the time frame of the Police Investigations Department could not be limited. His senior assistant, Raz Nizri, said Weinstein had asked all involved to make every effort to wrap up matters as quickly as possible, but setting a deadline in the investigation was not appropriate.