A 45-year-old trainer has accused Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger of sexually harassing him some five years ago, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
The personal fitness trainer, who is a homosexual, said he decided to talk after the rabbi was questioned under caution by the police this week on suspicion of bribery, fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust and money laundering.
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The trainer, who also worked as a tour guide, said on Sunday that the alleged incident took place as he was accompanying a group of priests who had met with Metzger at the chief rabbi's office in Jerusalem during their visit to Israel.
"During the meeting I sensed that Rabbi Metzger did not stop looking at me," the man recalled. "After the meeting he approached me and said he could help me get work as a tour guide for groups visiting Israel. He asked for my phone number, and then asked if I would accompany him to his office. When we entered he closed the door, and from here things got really weird. He asked if I worked as a trainer and said he was looking for one. He told me he also wanted to get massages. I was shocked.
"Then he grabbed my hand and stroked it throughout the entire conversation. I froze. I mean, this is the chief rabbi, and we were in his office," the man said. "He said he wanted a trainer who could also give him massages. He said he had an apartment in Tel Aviv and that physical fitness was important to him. Then he pointed at his stomach and said 'feel it.' I left his office stunned. Since that meeting he would call me from blocked phone numbers and ask 'When are we going to schedule a training session?' Eventually I gave him the phone number of another trainer, and that's how I got rid of him.
"I told my close friends about the incident immediately. It angered me that in the past he had issued a statement condemning the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. I remember thinking to myself: 'How is he not ashamed of himself?'
Rabbi Metzger responded to the accusations through his attorneys David Libai and Elad Rath, who issued a statement saying the rabbi "has no idea who this man is."
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