Documents From Pop Star Eyal Golan Case Reveal Exploitation of Groupies, Police Error

The investigation into the singer's sexual misconduct was closed, but new documents show a harrowing pattern – and that the police didn't always ask the right questions

Singer Eyal Golan at a ceremony honoring Israeli musicians at the Knesset, Jerusalem, December 11, 2018.
Emil Salman

Documents from the investigation into pop superstar Eyal Golan, which relates to sexual intercourse with underage girls and closed six years ago, reveal that Golan and his friends passed groupies from hand to hand like sexual merchandise. The papers also point to failures in the police investigation, which led to the case's closure in 2014.

After the investigation concluded, the minors involved were commonly portrayed as unreliable and the pop idol as a victim. However, the documents obtained by Haaretz, which include testimony by Golan, his father and several of their friends, along with testimony from teenage girls questioned at the time – two of whom were under 16 – bring to light a pattern of passing girls from one man to another.

In some cases the teenagers, most of them girls with serious problems, had sex with Golan’s father, Danny Biton, and friends after being promised they would get to meet the singer. In some cases Biton passed girls on to his son as well, and at least in one case, Golan passed a girl on to others.

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On September 30, 2013, Keren (a fictitious name, like those of all the girls in this story), 18, met a crowd that teenage girls like her could only dream of meeting. At a party at Tel Aviv’s HaOman 17 club, a friend introduced her to Nir Shalom, Eyal Golan’s drummer. He took her into the club’s VIP section, where Golan had been earlier in the evening. A few days later Shalom would invite Keren to Golan’s show at Amphi Park in Ra’anana, where she got a coveted selfie with the singer, but for now she made do with meeting people from his close circle: Golan’s pianist Adi Leon, band employee Moshiko Shem Tov, and two 17-year-old girls.

After complimenting her on how pretty and sexy she was and drinking more alcohol, Adi took pulled Keren by the hand and they drove to Shem Tov’s home in Bat Yam, where “we all entered a room. It was the first time I was in a situation like this with people,” Keren testified two months later.

That night started a period of hanging out and continual sexual relations with various people close to Golan, and with Golan himself, she testified. Keren was taken to hotels or homes of men she did not know, from Acre to Tel Aviv to Eilat, on the basis of agreements she did not know about. She agreed to their sexual proposals and demands, sometimes trying to object and being insulted, but always seeing the promise of getting close to the singer before her eyes.

“I drove there with Moshiko. There were Adi Leon, Danny Biton with two girls I didn’t know. Moshiko took me to sit next to Eyal. We drank alcohol and then Moshiko whispered something in Eyal’s ear. Eyal smiled and nodded,” she told the police about an evening that began as a barbecue at another band member’s house in Holon.

“At about 3 A.M. Eyal asked me if I wanted to come with him. I said yes and we drove in the car. Eyal told his driver [Yaniv Gershon] to take us to a place where there were no people. … We got to a dark place, the driver got out and we had sex in the car. In the middle Eyal told Yaniv come, sit beside us. Yaniv got into the car and took his pants off. While having intercourse with Eyal, I performed oral sex on him. We dropped Eyal off at home. A few minutes later he [Gershon] wanted it again. … I told him I was exhausted and he said, ‘come on,’ and started saying nasty things to me. He said, ‘you ugly thing, do it, you do it to everyone.’ ... He called me a slut and things like that, he pushed my head … he came, I pulled away from him to the window and was silent the whole way and tears were dripping down my face.”

Gershon confirmed Keren’s statement about the sexual nature of their meeting, but denied forcing her to do anything.

She wasn’t the only girl who testified about having sex with the singer and his cronies. Two other girls’ testimonies were viewed by the police and prosecution as reliable. On the basis of these testimonies the singer’s father, Danny Biton, was convicted of several offenses, including pimping and pimping of minors, and was sentenced to two years in prison as part of a plea bargain.

Golan himself was not charged. The singer’s investigation focused on whether he knew he was having sex with minors against the law. Golan denied it, some of the girls said his father had told them to lie to Golan about their age, and within three months, in February 2014, the case against the singer was closed for lack of evidence.

The media commotion that surrounded the story since it broke on Channel 2 (now Channel 12) died down. For the past six years, despite sporadic criticism, the affair had no impact at all on the singer’s star power. His program “Eyal Golan is Calling You,” which was discontinued in 2013, resumed three years later with a new season. He was awarded the “Singer of the Year” title again and again on Galgalatz, Kan Gimel and Mako.

Golan’s return to the mainstream was bolstered in 2018 with the program “Aviv or Eyal” on Keshet (Channel 12) and his being honored by the Knesset. This year he released a double album, and a musical play based on his songs is running at the Cameri Theater.

The mass media enabled him to portray all the teenage girls who testified against him as unreliable and himself as a victim. Even the exposé Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz broadcast in July on Channel 13, in which two girls said Golan not only had sex with them but asked them to “take care” of his friends, didn’t crack the Teflon veneer of the king of Israeli pop.

Most of the girls involved were in some sort of distress, many coming from abusive homes. They were willing to go through a lot to be near their idol, and were marked as easy prey by the men surrounding him. Twelve men, for example, had sexual intercourse with Keren, but during the investigation – which police gave the name “Social Games” – the detectives didn’t bother to question all these men. Neither did they confront Golan and some of his cronies with the girls’ testimonies or with the girls themselves.