Police Won't Charge Labor Whip With Sexual Offenses

The criminal probe against Labor MK Yoram Marciano for allegedly attacking security guards at a nightclub is not expected to include an inquiry into sexual offenses, police sources said yesterday.

The Knesset Ethics Committee yesterday banned Marciano from attending Knesset plenum and committee debates for 10 days, following his brawl at Herzliya's Rio nightclub.

A member of the security staff filed a police complaint against Marciano, accusing him of threatening and attacking guards. Marciano in turn lodged a complaint against a guard for allegedly striking him first.

When police examined the security video from the night of the brawl, they observed Marciano kissing and fondling women. They decided to question the women as well as others present about Marciano's conduct.

One of the women whom Marciano was seen kissing on video arrived to testify on Sunday. However, the parliamentary assistant told police that she did not feel harassed when Marciano kissed her and had no intention of filing a complaint. She remained adamant even when shown the video.

"I don't see this kiss as an indecent act or sexual harassment or anything that would make me take it further," the parliamentary assistant told Army Radio yesterday. She gave the police her testimony yesterday.

"I saw what the woman [who complained against President Moshe Katsav] had to go through and have no intention of going through anything like that," she said.

"The reports themselves are punishment enough. A Knesset member is a public official, and it is for the public to judge such acts," she said.

The woman was seen chatting with Marciano at the MKs' cafeteria in the Knesset yesterday.

Another woman, who works in the Knesset cafeteria, was also reportedly kissed by Marciano at the Rio club. As of yesterday, she had retained a lawyer to represent her.

The Knesset panel that banned Marciano from Knesset debates yesterday said it had made its decision on the basis of the evidence presented by Marciano alone. Marciano himself had turned to the Ethics Committee and requested the panel debate the incident and punish him accordingly. The committee said its considerations were ethical rather than criminal.