Israel Police and Israel's Attorney General are investigating the testimony of a woman who claims that Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom allegedly sexually harassed her while she worked in his bureau 15 years ago.
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The statute of limitations on serious sex crimes in Israel is 10 years, unless the victim is a minor, so police are investigating whether there are additional complainants against Shalom before launching an official investigation against him.
Shalom's bureau said in response that "Silvan is not familiar with such a complaint or story." The minister's associates claim that the delayed complaint was meant to purposely sabotage his expected candidacy for Israel's presidency.
The Justice Ministry confirmed Sunday that the complaint reached the Attorney General and that the information is being examined by his staff. In recent days a meeting was held into the matter between AG Yehuda Weinstein, State Attorney Shai Nitzan, deputy to the AG for criminal matters, Raz Nizri, deputy to the State Attorney for criminal matters, Eli Abarbanel, and head of the investigations and intelligence department in the police, Meni Itzhaki.
According to the law, the AG holds the authority to open a criminal investigation against a minister in office, if a complaint has been filed against him.
Army Radio published a recording of the complainant's allegations earlier Monday. According to her allegation, the minister asked the complainant to bring him some work documents at the Jerusalem hotel where he was spending the night. When the minister opened the door to his room, he was dressed only in a robe. While they were sitting together in the room, the complainant alleged, the minister began making sexual suggestions.
According to the complainant, she went to the bathroom to escape the uncomfortable situation in the room. When she re-entered the room, the minister was lying naked on the bed. She made various excuses to avoid his request that she have sex with him, but acceded out of fear to his request that she perform oral sex on him. After that, she left the room.
Several weeks after the incident, she resigned her position in the minister's bureau.
Attorney Orna Sasson told Army Radio on Monday that the woman had contacted her several days after the incident. "I told her that the minister's actions were very serious and constituted a crime," she said.
Sasson explained that "15 years ago, the way women who complained of sexual offences were treated was very different. In those days it was something very unusual. Women rarely complained and, when they did, they went through a very difficult process. I explained to her all the difficulties that she would encounter."
Army Radio sent the complainant for two polygraph tests. The first found that she was being truthful about the events she described, while the results of the second, which took place on Sunday, were mixed.
"With reference to the claim that she had sexual contact with the minister – the polygraph showed a tendency to lie," while "with reference to the claim that she acceded to his request for sexual contact out of fear that she would be harmed, the answer was found to be a fabrication."
According to Army Radio, the woman was found to be telling the truth when she maintained that she was not motivated by foreign interests or people who wanted to harm the minister.
She was also found to be truthful when she denied that the incident occurred while she was having an affair with the minister.
The findings of the polygraph tests have been transferred to the state attorney and the attorney general.