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Former president Moshe Katsav denied all the charges against him in Tel Aviv District Court yesterday and denigrated the female employees who had accused him of rape, harassment and indecent acts.

Katsav is charged with twice raping and once commiting a forcible indecent act on the woman who served as his bureau chief in the Tourism Ministry. He also has been charged with sexually harassing an employee of the President's Residence; sexually harassing and committing an indecent act on another President's Residence employee and harassing her as a witness. He also stands accused of interfering with the judicial process.

Katsav said in his response to the indictment that none of the complainants had complained on their own initiative. He denied raping the Tourism Ministry bureau chief, as well as the claims that he pressed himself against her and touched her chest against her will in her Jerusalem flat.

Katsav denied calling her regularly in the evenings, asking her what she was wearing and telling her to undress. He said he had spoken to her several times as part of her job as his bureau chief. He denied changing his attitude toward her when she rejected his courtship and said he had fired her in February 1999 because of her poor performance, "wild behavior" and poor interpersonal skills.

Katsav denied hugging the employee from the President's Residence as she left his office and continuing to do so even after she told him not to. He said he may have given her a friendly hug "with no sexual intentions."

He denied making sexual comments to the second employee from the President's Residence, hugging her and pushing his face into her neck when they met to plan his 60th birthday party. He said that since she had undertaken the party preparations, he wanted to "express his appreciation and gratitude by kissing her cheek with no sexual intention." He denied her claim that she left his bureau in tears.

He accused the prosecution of interpreting events in a sexual way to "make him look bad."

Referring to the charge of harassing a witness and disrupting legal proceedings, Katsav said he was merely talking to an employee and was not aware that she was involved in a police investigation.

The complainants will testify behind closed doors starting in September.