Police have promised to launch an investigation into of one of its officers following allegations that a prominent model and reality television star was turned away from a police station while attempting to file a sexual abuse complaint.
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Gal Gvaram later managed to make the complaint, making it the 11th complaint against modeling agent Shai Avital for alleged sex crimes.
In a video posted to Instagram on Tuesday evening, the model and former Big Brother star described how she had gone to police district headquarters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to report that she had been sexually harassed two years before by modeling agent Avital, who has been the subject of numerous complaints of sexual assault in recent days.
According to Gvaram, when she arrived at the station that evening, the officer on duty asked her “why did you only come now?”
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After she replied that she had waited “because I was frightened and I am no longer scared,” he then proceeded to inform her that she would have to wait up to three hours to speak with a detective and recommended that she return home and file a complaint online.
“Omer Bar-Lev, you said to come and testify. You called on everybody to come and testify, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy to do,” she declared in the video, addressing the Public Security Minister, who only days before had announced the appointment of an advisor on violence against women in the wake of media reports regarding sexual abuse in the Israeli modeling industry.
“I ask and call on more women who have been harmed to file a complaint with the police,” Bar-Lev tweeted on Sunday. “Any complaint filed will be significant, and the police will do everything to investigate them exhaustively.”
Police have launched an investigation against Avital earlier this week, after a woman on Sunday submitted a complaint that the modeling agent had sexually assaulted her. Another woman made a complaint on Monday. On Sunday, both Channel 12 and Channel 13 ran investigative reports into Avital alleging that the 43-year-old had for years sexually harassed or exploited models who worked for him, abusing his status as a well-known agent and a central figure in Israel’s entertainment industry.
In 2005, Avital was arrested along with Michel Adam, the head of the Paris-based FTV channel, after a model filed a complaint with Tel Aviv police, saying the two had sexually abused her during a party at a Tel Aviv bar.
In a statement, the police called the rejection of Gvaram's complaint “a serious incident,” pledged to “investigate the incident and draw the necessary lessons” and to handle sexual abuse allegations with the “required sensitivity.”
In a separate statement, Bar-Lev apologized to Gvaram and declared that the incident “should not have happened,” adding that his office was taking steps to improve law enforcement’s handing of the issue of sexual violence.