IDF Brigadier General Ofek Buchris was suspended on Tuesday after suspicions arose that he sexually assaulted a female soldier under his command four years ago.
Buchris is suspected of committing grave sexual offenses, including five counts of rape, indecent acts and sodomy, over a long period of time. The alleged acts occurred while he commanded a very well known unit.
Brig.-Gen. Maya Heller, the judge presiding over the case at the special military court at the Kirya base, determined that "there has been enough evidence collected so far to establish suspicions against the officer."
At first, the judge cleared the officer's name for publication, but then decided to heed the defense's request to delay the release of his name until 4pm Wednesday.
Buchris was seriously wounded over a decade ago in a famous battle. He received commendations for his efforts, returned to the military, and began to rise through the ranks. He is a valued combat officer, and until recent events, was slated to begin a new role in a sensitive unit very soon and be promoted to major general.
The officer's lawyer stated that this is "an allegation made by a soldier that claims the brigadier general had sexual relations with her five years ago, which happened as a result of his position of authority over her. The officer vehemently denies the allegations and declared that he never had any sexual contact with the soldier.
"A month and a half ago, even before he knew about the investigation, the officer successfully passed a polygraph test conducted by the Shin Bet, done for the purpose of maintaining his security clearance. In hindsight, the polygraph confirms that the officer's claims with regards to the soldier's complaint as well.
The counsel went on to say that "at the beginning of the investigation, the officer passed another polygraph, conducted by a private, external company, and he was found again to be telling the truth."
The defense also claims that Buchris was asked about the investigation in a polygraph test conducted by the IDF Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and was found to be telling the truth there as well.
"During the investigation carried out by the CID, some of the facts the female soldier stated in her complaint were found to be contradictory to objective evidence," the lawyer continued. "Brigadier General Buchris has no idea why the soldier made these allegations, but she still made them. The officer is putting his trust in the hands of the CID, hopes that the investigation will be completed soon, and is convinced that in the end he will continue to be a part of the security community, to which he has dedicated his life."
Former high ranking officers who served alongside the suspected Brigadier General were shocked by the allegations against him.
"Brigadier General Buchris's name is synonymous with morals - there is no officer who embodies the IDF moral code better than him," said an officer who served under his command several years ago. "I can’t believe that someone who worked and taught respect for their fellow man would do the things he is accused of. If he his dismissed, it will be a huge loss to the military and particularly the IDF's high command."
Another subordinate of the officer was also shocked to hear the accusations. "We are talking about a moral man, really dedicated to his served, and there is no chance that he harmed someone. We used to have a lot of heart-to-heart conversations, and he would talk about his love for his family and his children. There were ten female soldiers under his command, but I never saw him cross any boundaries. He cared about them like a father."