Israeli artist Boaz Arad was found dead in the yard of his house on Friday morning. There are no suspicions of criminal wrongdoing and Arad's death is being treated as a suicide.
On Thursday afternoon, the Mako website reported that Arad was being investigated for allegedly having sexual relations with female students at the Thelma Yellin high school where he had taught art.
Arad, who was 62, was a well-regarded artist who had mounted numerous exhibitions, as well as teaching at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and at the Beit Berl College. Between 1983 and 2006 he taught art at the Thelma Yellin high school in Givatayim. The report on Mako included a conversation with a woman who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Arad which began when she was 16 and lasted for four years. She said that other female students also had sexual relations with him.
According to G.’s testimony on Mako Arad asked her to keep the relationship a secret at first. He was twenty years older than she was. When she turned 18 she moved in with him. She said that her friends were excited when they learned of their relationship. “We all worshipped him, he was like a god, and suddenly this god-like figure pays attention to me, shining a searchlight on me. I felt very special” she related.
She added that the relationship was very unequal, making it clear that it would not survive. “It took me two years to realize it. He was a powerful man, domineering and opinionated. I started post-secondary courses and he hated the fact that I was studying with other teachers, acquiring knowledge through them, talking about other topics, being influenced by them intellectually.” In conversations with other former students at the school, it transpired that Arad had at least three other affairs with students over the years.
According to the report, Arad denied that he had sexual relations with his students while they were still in high school, saying that this started only after they had graduated. He sounded very emotional when talking with Mako. “I had male and female friends among the students while I was a teacher, but I never crossed the line with them. There is a judicial system in many countries including Israel, and a person is innocent until proven otherwise. There is also a statute of limitations” he told a Mako reporter.
“When this comes out you are condemning me since I won’t have an opportunity to deny these allegations in court. I won’t be able to look my mother in the eyes; there will be no point to my life. This will mean the end of my life. Everyone will try to make some profit from this story” he said in response to the publication of the story on Thursday.
During the conversation with Mako, Arad repeatedly said that his life was not worth living now that the story was out, leading Mako to dispatch the police to his home. The police reported back, saying that his life was not in danger. They detained Arad for a while but then released him. On Friday morning his body was found outside his house.