The sexual-harassment case at the Israel Police took another twist yesterday as the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department detained an alleged former lover of police Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev - a woman who can only be identified as S.
Investigators suspect that S. drugged her friend M., the latest complainant against Bar-Lev, at an encounter in a hotel four years ago, helping him to rape her. S. denies that the sexual encounter between Bar-Lev and M. involved force.
Bar-Lev, the leading candidate to become the Israel Police's next commissioner, is expected to take a polygraph test this morning, which investigators hope will help indicate the reliability of his versions of the two events in question.
Bar-Lev is undergoing two criminal investigations - one the case of O., an adviser to the Public Security Ministry who claims Bar-Lev sexually assaulted her at a conference in Eilat two years ago. The other is that of M., a cosmetician in her late 40s who complained last week that Bar-Lev had raped her four years ago.
Both Bar-Lev and S. have presented a version of events radically different to M.'s. A source familiar with the investigation told Haaretz that according to the two, Bar-Lev had asked his long-term lover S. to bring a friend for a threesome to a hotel in central Israel. They said M. arrived at the hotel because she was attracted to Bar-Lev, and in the knowledge that the three would have sex together.
M., however, claims she never agreed to sleep with Bar-Lev, and that Bar-Lev had sex with her after she was drugged. Bar-Lev is alleged to have had sex only with M., with S. present some of the time and leaving the room occasionally.
One of Bar-Lev's friends told Haaretz yesterday that "Uri fell victim to a struggle of women over his heart. He's an attractive man, it's no secret, and M. wanted him too. But to say he'd rape someone - that just isn't Uri."
O., the first complainant, was friends with M. through new suspect S., but they have allegedly not spoken for four years.
M. decided to file the complaint after hearing that O. had filed hers. O. is said not to have had any knowledge of the incident described in M.'s complaint, or of M.'s intention to complain.
Bar-Lev said in interrogation and in a confrontation with O. earlier this week that his encounter with her was not sexual. He also told investigators that he did not use force on M., and that she arrived in the hotel to have sex with him of her own free will.
A senior police officer raised the question yesterday of why Bar-Lev formally remains the police attache to the embassy in Washington despite the very serious investigation against him. The police believe they will receive evidence from the Justice Ministry in the coming days that will allow Police Commissioner David Cohen and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to decide whether to suspend Bar-Lev.
Speaking at the annual Eilat Journalism Conference yesterday, Cohen slammed media reports linking the sexual-assault allegations to Bar-Lev's candidacy to become the country's police chief.
"The attempt to link the Bar-Lev affair to the commissioner race is weak and flawed," Cohen said in his first public comment on the investigation. "There is no connection between the recent events and the selection of a commissioner."
Cohen is scheduled to finish his term in May.
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