(photo credit: Hadad Eliran)
Almost three months after news of an alleged sex scandal involving Eyal Golan and underage girls broke, the Justice Ministry announced on Wednesday it had closed its case against the singer for lack of sufficient evidence.
“I want to thank my mother, my children, and the fans who supported me the entire time,” Golan said following the announcement. “What I had in my heart, I wrote yesterday.”
Golan had proclaimed his innocence on Tuesday, saying, “For the last three months, I have endured very difficult days. I am aware that the Israeli public is angry and confused over what happened, and I am sorry about this.”
The singer, for years one of the country’s top recording artists, the former host of his own reality-show singing competition, and a judge on a second show, was among several men arrested in November after allegations surfaced that he had sex with minors.
The allegations, which became part of a media storm that dominated the news, involved claims that Golan and his inner circle held “sex parties” involving drugs, where underage girls had sex with men twice their age or older. A few days after the case broke, Golan and five other men were brought in for questioning, though Golan was soon released to house arrest.
From almost the very beginning, the police case and the public narrative focused on Golan’s father, Dani Biton, as well as on an employee of Golan’s, Tsahi Asulin. The two men are still expected to be charged with statutory rape.
Biton, 61, is suspected of exploiting his proximity to his son’s fame to lure underage girls and then having sexual relations with them. He and Asulin are also suspected of giving the girls money and gifts to sleep with them.
As the presiding judge said at Biton’s first remand extension, he “exploited the naiveté of underage girls who wanted a touch of glamour.”
Addressing the case on Tuesday, Golan denied that he knowingly slept with a minor, saying the girl in question misrepresented herself.
“There was an embarrassing situation in which I told police that my father came to my house together with two women without my knowledge or my consent,” Golan said.
“One of the women said that she was 21 years old. I then became suspicious that this girl was younger. I asked her how old she was, and she acknowledged that she was just 17 years old.
“At that moment, I immediately left the apartment in order to avoid doing harm to her honor,” the singer said.
Golan said that he “never committed an act that would be an affront to a woman or a man,” and that the women who made the original allegations against him were caught in a lie.
The singer said that he had dismissed his formerly trusted associates after it became clear that they were involved in “deeds that aren’t to be done.”
He put much of the blame on his father, saying that one of the biggest mistakes he made was letting his father back into his inner circle decades after he abandoned him as a child.
At Biton and Asulin’s first hearing, a police detective said that Asulin knew at least one of the girls was 17, because she is a relative of his, and that there are witnesses who linked him to doing drugs with minors.
From the beginning the case against Golan was plagued by unreliable witnesses, including at least one girl who later recanted her testimony against the singer.
The case has led to a public backlash against Golan, who has seen concerts canceled and a big reduction in the airtime his songs get on radio.
He was asked to step down from his position as a judge on the reality show Hacochav Haba (“The Next Star”).
The Golan case triggered a public debate about the use of court-issued gag orders, in that the press was banned form publishing his name for almost a week, having instead to write “the famous singer” even after most of the public knew that he was the suspect in question.