More victims have in recent days accused an IDF officer, suspected of secretly taking over 1,000 intimate photos and videos of female soldiers with whom he served, of misconduct.
Lieutenant Rom Abergil was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of recording and photographing female soldiers without their knowledge or consent at the same Home Front Command base where he was serving.
The lieutenant confessed to the wrongdoings, which he claimed were an addiction, and military investigators charged the soldier with sexual harassment, invasion of privacy and extortion.
On Wednesday, the Castina Military Court in southern Israel extended the officer's remand by at least one week. The extension came as prosecutors had still not finished drafting the indictment as more and more women who served under Abergil keep coming forward with new information.
Military sources believe there are still dozens of female soldiers who served with the officer and remain unaware they had fallen victim to Abergil’s actions.
"Following the publication of the incident, several other female soldiers approached the law enforcement authorities in order to file a complaint against the officer," said one army source. "As a rule, the criminal record of each new recruit to the security service in the IDF is considered at the time of their draft. The officer was not convicted of any offense prior to his draft."
According to the investigation, Abergil used the practice of planting a cell phone in women's toilets at his base and downloaded an app, which allows for photos to be taken remotely even when the device appears to be turned off. The practice enabled the suspect to capture pictures and videos of female soldiers in intimate situations without their knowledge.
As part of the military probe, the investigators so far obtained a disturbing collection of more than 1,000 intimate videos and images from Abergil’s phone and computer, all allegedly taken by the officer over the past three years.
The officer earlier requested for his identity to remain under gag order out of fear for his mental health, though his request was rejected by the military court.
Abergil’s defense attorneys, Ofir and Limor Bramley, said their client suffers from mental health issues, which prompted him to commit the alleged crimes.
"Without taking lightly the seriousness of the acts he is suspected of, we emphasize that our client said during questioning that he committed the acts due to mental issues and not with the aim of harming any of the female soldiers. These are just suspicions that have not yet been formulated into a coherent indictment," said the lawyers in a statement.
The IDF spokesperson's Unit said, however, the officer is accused of violating the women's privacy for his own selfish needs.
"On November 17, 2020, Lieutenant Rom Abergil was arrested by the IDF Southern Command. The officer is suspected of having secretly documented many female soldiers in intimate situations over a long period of time, violating their privacy in order to satisfy and stimulate himself sexually," said the spokesperson in a statement.
"The IDF condemns the acts attributed to the officer and law enforcement agencies will work to bring him to justice. The commanders accompany the victims in order to provide them with any needed assistance."