Internal Affairs Inclined to Advise Sexual Assault Charges Against Top Police Officer

Orly Innes comes forward as complainant against candidate for police chief.

The Justice Ministry reportedly has enough material to move toward recommending that Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev be indicted for an indecent act and sexual harassment, following the accusations recently leveled by Orly Innes.

Orly Innes - Nir Kafri
Nir Kafri

Innes, who had previously been identified in the media only as O., revealed her identity at a rally last night, in an attempt to use the publicity generated by the case to empower victims of sexual assault.

"I am here tonight to represent the often quiet, scared and hesitant voice of the victims of abuse," Innes said last night in Tel Aviv. She also said she had been framed in the media as being manipulative and unreliable, that she had been insulted and that her privacy had been violated.

"As if the difficult experiences I went through were not enough, I am now being subject to a new kind of abuse. And not only me - my family, my children, my friends and relatives," she said.

"My story unfortunately captures the essence of the difficult and absurd saga endured by victims of this kind of offense," Innes added.

Innes, who has a Ph.D. in social work, founded and is a staff member of the City Without Violence program, which confronts all types of violence on a city-wide level.

The apparent decision by the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers to move toward an indictment against Bar-Lev is based on a number of testimonies provided by impartial individuals whom Innes told about the incident shortly after it happened, as well as on the fact that Innes passed a polygraph test.

Sources close to Bar-Lev, who had been considered the leading candidate to be next chief of the Israel Police, said yesterday that the possibility that he could be charged with commiting an indecent act was surprising, as he had stipulated to the facts of the incident as Innes described them, but said that he and Innes had interpreted the encounter differently.

With regard to the complaint lodged by the woman known as M., who accused Bar-Lev of drugging and then raping her in a Herzliya hotel room, investigators will apparently have difficulty in proving that she was in fat drugged, that Bar-Lev knew it and that sexual relations were not carried out of her own free will.

Bar-Lev denied during his polygraph test and during the police-monitored confrontation between him and M. that she had been drugged and also said that she had fully consented to sexual relations with him.

The department issued an official statement yesterday that, following Bar-Lev's questioning Wednesday, further investigation was required. The statement also noted that "various interested parties" were attempting to influence the probe by planting disinformation in the media on both the investigation and its results.

Meanwhile, the head of the investigation department, Herzl Shviro, is currently on a private trip abroad, and is scheduled to return next week. Shviro was the first person in the department to handle the Bar-Lev affair, after receiving information a few months back about his alleged attack on Innes during a police conference in Eilat two years ago.

Shviro reportedly asked Innes to meet with him to discuss the matter; she told friends she rejected the idea and was afraid to file a complaint against Bar-Lev.

The department has been frequently criticized during Shviro's tenure for closing many cases against police personnel due to lack of interest to the public or lack of evidence.