There are new suspicions of sexual impropriety against Minister of Infrastructures, Energy and Water Silvan Shalom (Likud-Beytenu), who is rapidly fading as a possible contender for succeeding Shimon Peres as Israel's president.
IDF Radio reported Thursday that the police possess additional complaints against Shalom, one of which is “a new complaint,” besides the complaint that he has already been questioned about by police. Presumably, this means that the complainant says that Shalom sexually harassed her sometime in the last ten years, and that the statute of limitations does not preclude prosecuting Shalom for the alleged offense.
Maariv-NRG said that two complaints have been filed, besides the original complaint against Shalom, which alleged improper sexual behavior by him with a secretary, about 15 years ago. Shalom denied even knowing the complainant.
The new complaints will be brought before the State Attorney's Office, according to IDF Radio.
Police questioned Shalom about the first complaint despite the fact that they knew it would be impossible to prosecute him for it, due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The idea behind this move, reporters said, was to have the complainants testimony as supporting evidence in case more women stepped up to complain against Shalom.
It appears that this tactic worked and that additional complainants have materialized.
Simultaneously with the evolution of the scandal around Shalom, there is a growing wave of sharp criticism against the way the press handles such accusations. The criticism is focused on a group of female reporters who specialize in reporting allegations of sexual impropriety by men, and who have formed a Female Reporters' Cell, which deals with complaints of sexual harassment by male media persons.
The critics say that the reporters have usurped the role of police, prosecution and judges, and that the suspects they name are being denied the presumption of innocence. A senior reporter on Channel 2, Guy Peleg, said that in the case of newsman Emanuel Rosen, potential complainants were been bullied and threatened into filing complaints. One of them, he said, was told that her children would be taken away from her if she did not complain against Rosen.
On Tuesday, a Jewish women's group leader voiced her skepticism over the allegations against Shalom, questioning why the complainant would wait 15 years before complaining, and suggesting the "fishy" timing hinted at a darker political motive in the case.