A': System gave up on me, on justice

Ex-Beit Hanassi employee tells reporters how Katsav "terrorized," raped her.

By RON FREIDMAN
June 28, 2007 17:36
3 minute read.
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"I feel like the system gave up on me, gave up on justice and caved in to the power of the authorities. I am referring to the person who terrorized me, both mentally and physically, Moshe Katsav," the former Beit Hanassi employee known as "Aleph" said in a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday. "Aleph" and her attorneys held the press conference in response to the announcement of a plea bargain agreement between Katsav and the Attorney-General's Office, which does not include "Aleph's" claims of rape. "I can't understand how a person who handed the State of Israel a serial rapist and sex offender on a golden platter is cast away like a grain of dust," she said. "I regret the fact that I spoke out. I should have gone to the grave with my story." For 45 minutes, "Aleph" sat in front of dozens of reporters and television cameras to describe how she was allegedly raped by the president. She told of how it started with flirtations and compliments, with the president telling her how sexy she was and how he was attracted to her. She described how he advanced to harassing phone calls, unnecessary meetings and sexually aggressive comments, requesting that she come to work dressed in a skirt without underwear and calling her into his office for no reason. "Aleph" then told of how Katsav proceeded to acts of sexual harassments and indecent exposure like exposing himself and asking her to touch him, and how it all culminated in repeated acts of rape inside the president's chambers. "I felt him approach me from behind and grab hold of me. I could feel his erection against my body. He told me that he wanted to have sex with me, and that there is no reason why I should refuse," she said. "He then thrust me against his desk, gripped my hands to the table, removed my pants and committed a full sexual act." According to "Aleph," this act was repeated three or four times while she was working at Beit Hanassi. She broke down in tears when she told of the effects that the ordeal had on her life. "I gave up on my dreams and ambitions, my chance at a unique job opportunity, everything, in order to get away from the leprosy called Moshe Katsav," she said. "Aleph" also revealed the existence of a letter sent to her, allegedly written by Katsav himself, in which he threatened that, if she told her story, her whole experience and everything that happened to her would be revealed in a letter to the press. "Aleph" and her attorney Kinneret Barashi described the attorney-general's decision to remove her statement from the indictment as "absurd and scandalous," based on undisclosed evidence that supposedly counters her testimony. "They probably figured that the severity of Aleph's testimony would not enable a plea bargain to go through, and for that reason dropped her statements from the records," said Barashi. "We plan to petition the Supreme Court and request an investigation regarding the agreement." Asked what message the plea bargain sends to other victims of sexual harassment, "Aleph" responded: "Don't complain, it won't do you any good." In 2006, Katsav's lawyers accused "Aleph" of attempting to extort him into giving her money and a job in exchange for her silence. The extortion charges against her were dropped as part of the plea bargain. "The only promise the president ever gave me was that I would receive a job when I returned to Israel," she said. "I was an integral part of the President's Office; I was the office manager. I have a right to request a job, especially under the circumstances and everything that happened to me."

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