On December 30, 2010, the eighth President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, was unanimously convicted by a three judge panel in a Tel Aviv District Courtroom of “rape, sexual harassment, committing an indecent act while using force, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice,” according to the Jerusalem Post. The three judge panel – two women, Judge Miriam Solow and Judge Judith Shevah and one man, Judge George Kara – deliberated for five months before rendering their verdict.
The story begins in July of 2006 when then President Katsav met with Attorney General Menahem Mazuz to say that he was being blackmailed by a former employee. I guess Israel doesn’t have a “good ole’ boy” network, because Mazuz investigated the allegations and in November of 2006 ordered a criminal probe. Once the investigation was announced it was turned over to Israel Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi who then announced a “special team” would be built to investigate.
Katsav (still the President of Israel) must have seen things careening out of control, because according to the Jerusalem Post, “Katsav told Mazuz in a letter Tuesday he is not convinced his former secretary, ‘A,’ is attempting to blackmail him and he sees no need for a criminal investigation of the affair.”
By the end of August 2006, Katsav would have his house raided, his computer and documents seized and he would be questioned “under caution.” The investigation would eventually lead to 10 different witnesses testifying that Katsav did engage in some form of inappropriate sexual misconduct over a nine-year period beginning with his time tourism minister in the nineties up to and including his presidency. Mazuz found enough evidence to charge Katsav, but he was immune from prosecution while still president. A plea agreement was eventually reached in 2007 that included his resignation. The agreement was controversial, especially since it lacked charges of rape and would include no jail term.
By October 2007 the state prosecution changed its indictment leading Katsav to withdraw from the plea bargain and vowing to fight to prove his innocence in court.
On December 31st, 2010 the Jerusalem Post lauded his conviction, highlighting “Court overwhelmingly accepts complainants’ testimony, calls defendant a bully, a liar and a repeat sexual predator.”
Less than a week after the conviction, the Associated Press announced a call for Katsav’s pardon:
“Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister who once led the dovish Meretz Party, said Katsav’s public humiliation was enough of a punishment and would serve as a powerful deterrent to other officials. He said it was not in the public interest to see a former symbol of the state behind bars.”
Is he serious?!