(photo credit: CHANNEL 2)
Former Givati Brigade battalion commander Lt.-Col. Liran Hajbi was demoted by the Tel Aviv Military Court on Thursday as part of his sentencing for a conviction for inappropriate sexual misconduct with a much lower ranking female soldier, including kissing her against her will.
Hajbi had fought hard against the demotion, saying that his expulsion from the army and the damage to his reputation was enough suffering.
His main accuser, May Fatal had pushed hard for the demotion, viewing it as a symbolic message from the army that it does not tolerate conduct like Hajbi’s against lower-ranking soldiers.
Fatal especially wanted Hajbi demoted since she believed he should have been convicted of the more serious crime of sexual harassment, and believed that at least a demotion took a price from him even if the conviction was lighter than she wished.
Responding to the court decision, Hajbi said he respected the court, but that the entire affair had been blown out of proportion due to “interested parties” and that he had been “caught in the cross-fire.”
Fatal’s lawyer said she had mixed feelings, satisfied that Hajbi was demoted, but unsatisfied that he was not convicted of sexual harassment.
The final conviction was framed around inappropriate conduct of a sexual character instead of harsher charges such as indecent sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or sexual assault.
The charges reflected a negotiation that would allow the IDF and Hajbi to avoid a drawn-out and embarrassing trial, in which his initial claims of consent would have been put to the test.
In December 2014, Hajbi’s superior officer, Givati Brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter, was questioned in a probe over whether he helped cover up sexual-harassment allegations in his unit against Hajbi.
Then-IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz promised to spare no effort in rooting out any wrongdoing, but Winter was eventually let off with a rebuke and a slap on the wrist.
Hajbi was forced out of the military.
He was accused of indecent acts against two female soldiers, with his family and lawyer defending his conduct on and off the battlefield, and a rape victims association condemning his alleged problematic behavior.