Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Gil Sheffer, is the prime minister’s confidant under investigation over the past month and a half on suspicion that he sexually assaulted a woman.
Sheffer was questioned by police and is currently under house arrest.
A similar complaint filed against Sheffer in the past was not perused due to statute of limitations.
Sheffer was only named Thursday becuase Israeli law prohibits publishing names of suspects until 48 hours after they are questioned by police as potential criminal suspects.
Sheffer, who has close ties with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, was questioned under caution on Tuesday, meaning that he is considered a criminal suspect.
He was then released to five days of house arrest. Sheffer was also recently questioned about the so-called Prime Minister’s Residence affair, in which Sara Netanyahu, the premier’s wife, is also a suspect.
A report on Channel 2 said Wednesday that Sheffer offered a woman who preformed at a conference he had attended a ride home.
It said that the woman sat next to him in the back seat of the car, and he plied her with alcohol against her will and touched her.
He allegedly also took her to an apartment where there were other men, and tried to kiss her against her will and refused to allow her to leave, Channel 2 reported. Sheffer’s attorney denied the allegations.
A Sheffer had already been presented with a complaint of sexual assault in the past. In February 2012, when Sheffer was set to become chief of staff, a woman complained that he had sexually assaulted her some 15 years earlier, while they were in a car together.
Sheffer was then the acting chief of staff, after Natan Eshel, who held the role, was ousted becuse of the harassment of an employee at the Prime Minister’s Bureau. Then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided not to initiate criminal proceedings against Sheffer due to the statute of limitations.
In 2013, the complainant again turned to Weinstein and presented him with further evidence. The attorney general, who did not change his mind, briefed Netanyahu of the findings and passed the material along to the civil service commissioner. The commissioner decided not to initiate proceedings against Sheffer since the allegations did not take place while the latter was a civil servant.
In the summer of 2013, Sheffer surprisingly announced that he is leaving his post. Netanyahu’s bureau vehemently denied that it happened against the backdrop of the complaint filed against him. Sheffer had recently been investigated as part of the so-called Prime Minister’s Residence affair.
Other senior associates of Netanyahu’s have over the years been implicated in allegations of misconduct as well. In January 2012, scandal erupted involving the prime minister’s chief of staff at the time, Natan Eshel.
The matter surfaced when three officials in the Prime Minister’s Office alerted then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to sexual harassment allegations against Eshel by a female member of the office staff.
The allegations were brought to Weinstein’s attention by then-Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, by Yoaz Hendel, the director of communications and public diplomacy and by military secretary Yohanan Locker. According to reports, Eshel accessed the woman’s emails and text messages, followed her and took sexually explicit pictures of her.
Eshel denied the allegations and the woman refused to file a complaint or testify against him. Ultimately, however, a plea agreement was reached in which Eshel admitted to unbecoming conduct. He resigned and committed not to rejoin the public service.