Israel Police Chief Sued for Calling Officer 'Criminal' for Claiming Sexual Harassment

Police Chief Roni Alsheich's 'job is to protect victims of sex crimes, not to persecute, humiliate and denigrate them,' libel suit says.

Police Chief Roni Alsheich
Olivier Fitoussi

A female police officer filed a libel suit against Police Chief Roni Alsheich on Tuesday after he called her a “criminal” for filing a sexual harassment complaint against a male officer.

The harassment complaint was against Roni Ritman, commander of the elite Lahav 433 unit. Alsheich made the remark in a police forum last month, after he was asked about his controversial decision to return Ritman to his post.

The suit, filed in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, seeks damages of 138,000 shekels ($38,000). It argued that since the plaintiff has never been charged with, much less convicted of a crime, Alsheich libeled her by calling her a criminal. She said Alsheich had refused her demand for a public apology.

Asheich’s remark was particularly egregious in light of his job, the suit said. “When a police commissioner calls someone a criminal, it has special meaning,” it said.

But it added that the plaintiff’s being a victim of harassment “eve n worse,” because “his job is to protect victims of sex crimes and denounce sexual offenders, not to persecute, humiliate and denigrate victims of sexual crime.”