A 24-year-old IDF officer from the prestigious Unit 8200 of the Intelligence Corps was arrested last month after suspicions surfaced that he had sexually molested several children as they slept, prior to his military service, it was announced on Tuesday.
The arrest was made on November 19 by the Central police district's Central Unit, when incriminating information about the officer was passed on to police by the military.
"The suspect confessed to his superiors. We were then called in," a police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.
Police said in a statement that the officer had confessed to molesting young children while babysitting them, but then denied committing the offenses, adding that he "claimed he wished to leave the army and therefore made up the story. That claim has been ruled out by the investigation's findings."
But defense attorney Kobi Sodri, who represents the army officer, said his client had made an error in judgment by attempting to get out of the army with a fabricated story, "while failing to understand the consequences. He did not commit these acts, and everything he described was designed to grant him a release from the army."
Sodri contradicted claims by the police and army that the suspect told his superiors of the act last month, saying the conversation took place a year ago during an evaluation period.
The IDF Spokesperson Unit denied that claim, and said police were contacted by the army as soon as the suspect told his commanders of his acts.
"He knew his acts were forbidden, but did not seek treatment. He still has thoughts on molesting children," police said.
Details of the investigation have been cleared for publication following the lifting of a media gag order.
The suspect, who cannot yet be named, has no previous criminal convictions. He holds the rank of first lieutenant, is single and holds a bachelor's degree.
Police say the suspect confessed to a series of sexual molestations of minors which allegedly took place between 1998 - 2004, when he was aged 14 - 20.
"The majority of the offenses took place when the suspect was a minor, when he was a high school student," police said in a statement.
A total of 17 boys and girls fell victim to the suspect, police said, adding that most were attending kindergarten or elementary school at the time.
The officer allegedly committed the abuse while babysitting the children of neighbors. He also allegedly targeted friends of his younger siblings who came to visit, as well as cousins while on holiday in Eilat.
"Most of the offenses took place at night, while the victims slept," police said.
"The suspect would stroke his victims, carry out oral sex on their genitalia, and rub his genitals against theirs," the statement added. "He would then usually masturbate in a separate room."
Police say they expect the suspect to be served with an indictment after the completion of the investigation.
Despite the alleged confession, state prosecutors may have a hard time prosecuting the officer, as no incriminating testimonies have been taken from alleged victims.