Katsav denies guilt in rape charges

Former president also dismisses multiple charges of sexual harassment, obstruction of justice.

katsav trial first day 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
katsav trial first day 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)
Former president Moshe Katsav on Wednesday responded to the charge sheet leveled against him, denying that he was guilty of rape, several other counts of sexual misconduct and obstruction of justice. Regarding Tourism Ministry 'Aleph,' Katsav's attorneys remarked that she had been dismissed in February 1999 due to impaired interpersonal skills and denied that she was fired because she resisted his advances. The former president's lawyers said that Katsav denied an alleged incident in her apartment, during which he was said to have fondled her against her will, as well as an alleged assault in a Jerusalem hotel, when, according to 'Aleph,' he tried to force her to have sexual intercourse with him. Katsav also flatly denied allegations against him in the matter of the complainant 'Lamed' from Beit Hanassi, claiming that he had merely kissed her on the cheek in order to show his appreciation after she shouldered most of the burden of planning his 60th birthday. He even said that 'Lamed' herself had emphasized that that she had not misconstrued the gesture, saying, "I don't call that harassment." Katsav made a similar assertion regarding the charge that he had sexually harassed 'Hey' from Beit Hanassi, saying that he had hugged her on a small number of occasions to show his friendship. He claimed that she, too, had not attributed any sexual undertone to the displays of affection at the time, and had considered the embraces nothing but "fatherly." The former president argued that it would have been better had the State Attorney's Office dropped the testimonies of the complainants from Beit Hanassi, claiming that they had both attempted - after the fact - to infuse inappropriate intention into acts that they themselves had admitted were anything but sexual in nature. Katsav also dismissed charges that he had obstructed the judicial process, claiming that he had no knowledge of an ongoing police investigation when he spoke to 'Lamed.'