Former bar association chief Efraim Nave is now also suspected of helping a female legal intern pass the bar exam in exchange for sexual favors, according to an account the woman provided the police Friday.
The news marks the latest sex-for-favors allegations against Nave.
The intern, whose cellphone has been impounded, is about 30. She allegedly told friends that Nave tried to help her when she approached him in May 2017 after failing the bar exam.
Nave, who resigned as bar association president last week, is alleged to have come to a restaurant where the woman was working and told her that “the ball is in your court.” The two are said to have then had a sexual affair over several months, including intimate relations at bar association conferences in the resort city of Eilat.
- Sex for judgeship: Evidence against Israel’s top lawyer obtained through hacked phone
- Head of Israel's bar association resigns over sex for judgeship case
- Sex for judgeship scandal: Israel's most powerful lawyer named as main suspect
Nave was questioned for 10 hours Thursday after being released to eight days of house arrest.
In the main aspect of the case, the police suspect that Nave had sex with another woman in exchange for her appointment as a magistrate’s court judge. They also suspect that he had sex with the wife of another judge in exchange for the judge’s promotion to a district court, a promotion that never took place.
Nave has been a dominant figure on Israel’s legal scene since 2015, when he defeated the incumbent and took over at the bar association.
The intern allegedly told friends that Nave promised that he would ensure that she was accepted at any law firm where she wanted to work. Asked how he would accomplish that, Nave reportedly replied: “Everyone does what I want.”
The intern is not a suspect and was questioned as a witness. Her lawyer challenged the confiscation of her phone, which is said to contain correspondence with Nave relating to the suspicions. A court has limited the search of the intern’s phone to correspondence with Nave.
In her account to the police Friday, the intern is said have told friends that she had sexual relations with Nave because she wanted to receive his help in passing the bar exam.
Nave never obtained a passing grade for her on the exam but is suspected of getting her additional time to take a subsequent exam based on attention-deficit difficulties, time that she was not entitled to.
Sources told Haaretz that the police have not questioned Nave regarding the intern in the case, which has focused instead on allegations that he traded sexual relations for efforts by him to promote the two judicial candidates.
In the case of the woman appointed as a magistrate’s judge, Nave is understood to have said under interrogation that he was not a member of the judicial nominating committee that appointed her. The committee is composed of judges, Knesset members and representatives of the bar association. The suspicion is that Nave controlled the votes of the bar association people on the panel.
Nave denies wrongdoing in the judicial nominations and reportedly said that the woman whom the committee appointed to the magistrate’s court had the necessary experience to be appointed a judge. But he reportedly did not deny that the two had had intimate relations.
The information on Nave’s alleged improper involvement in the judicial appointments came from correspondence that an Army Radio crime reporter, Hadas Shtaif, obtained from an old cellphone of Nave’s, which she then gave to the police. The phone had been kept in a safe at Nave’s former home, which he left when he separated from his second wife.
Shtaif employed a hacker to get through the phone’s security settings and found hundreds of purportedly incriminating text messages between Nave and the two women at the heart of the investigation. In exchange for the cellphone, the State Prosecutor’s Office granted Shtaif immunity for the hacking, which might constitute a criminal act and a violation of Nave’s privacy.
On Friday, the prosecutor’s office warned Army Radio not to use the private material found on the phone, saying this could lead to criminal proceedings.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has expressed concerns about how the evidence was obtained; it called for the case against Nave to be closed as a blatant violation of his privacy.
The police said Friday that the search of Nave’s cellphone was sanctioned in court and that the steps taken in the investigation “were being conducted according to the law while balancing the various interests concerning the matter.”