Israeli President Convicted Of Rape, Sexual Assault

The former president of Israel has been convicted on two counts of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and obstruction of justice, relating to three women who worked for him. A judge said Moshe Katzav's testimony was "riddled with lies."

The four-year trial had centered on offenses committed when Katzav was tourism minister and then president. (The role of president is largely ceremonial in Israel; the real power rests with the Prime Minister.) A total of eight women who worked for Katzav had brought complaints against him, although for some of them the statute of limitations had lapsed. He was convicted of raping one woman, sexually abusing a second, and harassing a third.

"The message to survivors of harassment is 'do not be silent,'" said prosecutor Ronit Emanuel. She also said, "Today was not an easy day for the State of Israel on the symbolic national plain, not on Mr. Katsav's personal plain. But this day teaches us that world leaders and also presidents will be brought court when needed, and that is a symbol of honor for the State of Israel."

It wasn't always going to be so: In 2007, just before he was about to end his term as president, Katzav got a ludicrously lenient deal that would have meant all the charges dropped, pleading lesser offenses, and no jail time. But then Katzav dropped out of the deal unexpectedly, saying he would prove his innocence in court. Now, he'll almost certainly go to prison, despite his lawyers saying he'll appeal.

Former President of Israel Is Convicted of Rape [NYT]
Katzav's Lawyers: We'll Appeal Unequivocal Rape Verdict [Haaretz]