Thursday, June 28, 2007
Israeli President avoids jail time in rape case
It's been a year since Israeli President Moshe Katzav was accused of sexually harassing and/or raping a number of women who worked in his office. Initially, Katzav claimed that he was the victim of a vindictive plot to ruin his reputation.
If one woman were to come forward with an unlikely story, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. But by last September, eight women came forward and the accusations could no longer be dismissed as extortion or revenge attempts.
Today, The Toronto Star reported that Katzav agreed to resign from his post as president after a year-long investigation under a plea bargain that includes no jail time for sex crimes.
He pleaded guilty to sexual harassment, indecent acts and harassing a witness, and he will have to pay damages to his accusers and will receive a suspended sentence.
This is being regarded as a victory for Katzav and a blow to woman's rights groups.
In a country that has made great strides over the years to bring the issue of rape and sexual harassment to the fore, this is a big step backwards.
Miriam Schler, of the Rape Crisis Center in Tel Aviv, said that this outcome "gives a message to women who were raped and attacked or sexually assaulted by men in positions of power that it's better for them to sit at home and be quiet and not tell anyone about it because it's not worth it for them to actually file a complaint with the police."