Israeli College Hires Then Fires Lecturer Charged With Sex Offenses

Psychology lecturer Yossi Lazar has lost two jobs and been charged with harassing a student and having inappropriate relations with several others.

Dror Miller

The Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel fired a lecturer on Thursday, following a report in Haaretz he had been forced to resign from a different academic institution after being charged with sex offenses.

Haaretz said Dr. Yossi Lazar, who was asked to resign from the Tel-Hai Academic College after being charged with an indecent act and sexual harassment of a student, had obtained employment as in the Max Stern Academic College as a psychology and education lecturer.

Lazar, a psychologist, had been a lecturer and brain researcher at Tel-Hai. He was indicted in October 2015 at the Kiryat Shmona Magistrate’s Court, and his license to work as a psychologist was suspended.

The college held a hearing a month beforehand for Lazar on suspicion he sexually harassed a student and had inappropriate relations with several others. Given the choice to resign or face dismissal, he resigned. 

Yoram Raz, the director of the Max Stern, told Haaretz that “after we learned of (Lazar’s) behavior over the Sukkot holiday from the Tel-Hai people, and it was corroborated by the media, he was invited to a meeting... We confronted him with the information we had and told him we didn’t have it when he was interviewed for the job. In view of what we know now, we cannot continue to employ him.” 

In the Kiryat Shmona court, Lazar was charged with sexually molesting a student, using a forged document and subverting justice. He was charged with telling the student, with whom he established close personal ties, that he was once a Mossad agent and was now dying of cancer. Lazar assisted the student financially and initiated night “treatments” in the nude, during which he touched the student’s body. The treatments included smoking marijuana and getting undressed.

“He told me it was the best thing for me. He told me to get undressed and started touching my body. I wanted to get away but my body froze. Afterward I told him it was very unpleasant and felt like sexual harassment,” the student testified.

“The defendant fostered personal ties with the complainant and did all he could to make the complainant emotionally and physically dependent on him,” the indictment says.

Lazar’s attorney Sasson Bar Oz said “the case doesn’t hold waterit’s based on libel for economic reasons alone, the evidence is flimsy. He was forbidden to work as a psychologist but not as a lecturer and there’s no legal reason he shouldn’t continue working as a lecturer.”

The student who complained against Lazar commended the college’s decision to terminate his post. 

“It sends the right message regarding the expected conduct from lecturers and zero tolerance for sexual harassment,” he said.

Sources have told Haaretz that Tel-Hai notified Max Stern about Lazar's record, after learning that Max Stern had employed him. The information about Lazar's past was also available online. Despite all this, Max Stern said they did not know about Lazar’s past before hiring him.