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Katsav. Humiliated workers upon rejection
Photo: Avishag Shaar Yeshuv
Court: Katsav employed deliberate method
Judges who convicted former president of rape, indecent acts, and sexual harassment say he abused his power over victims by 'glorifying, touching, making erotic comments, and hugging them at length' in anticipation of sexual rewards

The Tel Aviv District Court judges described former president Moshe Katsav, who was convicted Thursday of two counts of rape, forceful indecent acts and sexual harassment, as having employed a method with clear patterns against his victims.

 

"It started with close attachment and imparting a sense of superiority while trying to collect sexual rewards, and upon refusal ended with distance, compartmentalization, humiliation and dismissal," the verdict noted. Katsav employed this method against A. of the Tourism Ministry whom he raped on two different occasions.

 

A. recounted in detail the ex-president's changing attitude towards her during the trial, which matched her police statement. "At first, he glorified her and made her a powerful figure above other employees in the bureau. The defendant made her feel like a 'queen.' This was accompanied by presents, inclusion in stately events and formal tours as well as many talks both day and night.

 

"Meanwhile, the defendant aimed to recieve a reward and began sexually harassing A., starting by touching her chest and legs, making erotic comments, and ending with requests for sexual relations which culminated, according to her, in two cases of rape."

 

Katsav 'threw A. out of the car'

At this stage, Katsav changed his attitude towards A. following her rejection of him. "The defendant stripped her of the bulk of her duties, went over her head, forbade her to take part in tours, yelled at her, insulted and humiliated her. At the same time his aides began flooding her with reprimanding letters and made her life miserable.

 

"The culmination of this humiliation occurred as the defendant ordered she be removed from the car while it was moving and she was subsequently dismissed." The judges accepted A.'s testimony suggesting that "the process of humiliation and compartmentalization until the dismissal stemmed from one reason only – her refusal to accept his sexual advances."

 

Katsav's method as described by A. was corroborated in A.K's testimony which was omitted from the indictment due to the statute of limitations. She also suffered attempted sexual assault by Katsav. "Upon her refusal and despite previously professing his love for her he began humiliating, compartmentalizing and stripping her of her duties."


'I breath on occasions'. Katsav outside the court (Photo:AP)

 

The court fiercely criticized Katsav's inconsistent arguments and exposed his lies one by one. The ex-president claimed throughout the trial that he never once touched the complainant but later contradicted himself. "We could not comprehend how the defense could claim consensual, loving sex while simultaneously claiming there were no sexual relations at all," the judges wrote.

 

Judges also described a number of instances in which Katsav had perjured himself, tried to manipulate the court, and concealed information. In one example, the former president asked A. to send him a "love letter" in preparation for any allegations she may later bring against him.

 

Katsav's attorneys presented the court with the letter, claiming it was "full of expressions of love which do not fit in with claims of rape". However the court dismissed the alleged evidence, determining that Katsav had asked A. to write the letter and that she had agreed in an attempt to clear the air between them after the assault.

 

The defense also offered taped conversations between A. and Katsav's aide, Uri Yoeli, in which he promises to secure her a better position. The judges determined, however, that he had no intention of doing so. Yoeli "deceived" A. in a "manipulative and sneaky manner", the judges said.

 

Later, Katsav also employed officials at the Tourism Ministry to conspire against A. after she refused his advances. In a final attempt at discounting her claims of rape, the former president forged a diary entry in order to make it appear as though A. had not been at the hotel at the time of the rape.

 

Embraces of 'unusual nature'

Katsav was convicted of forceful indecent acts and sexual harassment of L. and H. During work meetings with L., Katsav would make such personal comments as saying she had "pretty eyes", was "dressed nicely today" and even having "sensual lips." The ex-president categorically denied having made any comments about L.'s lips.

 

However, the judges accepted her testimony regarding the defendant's 2005 birthday party during which he "told her she deserved a hug, approached her and embraced her for a long time while pressing his body to hers." The verdict also noted that Katsav "brought his face close to her neck as though trying to smell her for the purpose of sexual stimulation." Asked whether he sniffed her, Katsav replied "I breath on occasion."

 

The ex-president was also convicted of obstruction of justice by trying to influence L.'s testimony.

 

Katsav's method of fondling his female employees was supported by the testimonies of N.R and N.A as well as that of complainant H. The testimonies suggested that Katsav was in a habit of embracing his subordinates "in an unusual manner."

 

The judges accepted H.'s testimony and accused Katsav of sexual harassment and abuse of authority. Katsav embraced H. at length on three different occasions, pressed his body against hers "even after she commented on both times she does not desire to be hugged and asked him to stop." The panel also determined that the hugs were of a sexual nature.

 

While H.'s testimony was consistent throughout the trial, Katsav changed his version several times. He first denied ever having hugged the complainant and later went on to deny any sexual nature and finally confessed to walking his employees to the door.

 

Eli Senyor, Aviad Glickman and Naama Cohen-Friedman contributed to this report

 

 

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