Ashkelon mayor accused of bribing rape victim

Two women have come forward against Itamar Shimoni, who is charged with money laundering and fraud in a separate case.

Cynthia Blank ,

Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni
Ashkelon mayor Itamar Shimoni
Flash 90

The southern coastal city of Ashkelon suffered a major scandal on Tuesday after Mayor Itamar Shimoni was arrested on corruption charges, as well for sexual offenses. 

The Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court has extended his remand. 

According to the charges, the mayor sexually assaulted one of his subordinates in the municipality. After she threatened to file a police complaint, he offered her hush money in the amount of hundreds of thousands of shekels to remain silent. 

So far, at least two woman have come forward against Shimoni, Walla! News reports, and rape is one of the allegations against him. 

Three others, including Shimoni's brother and two local businessmen, were arrested along with him for their alleged involvement in a separate corruption case. 

Shimoni is suspected of promoting specific contractors and developers for building jobs in the city in exchange for bribes - all the while engaging in fraud and money laundering. 

Police arrested the four suspects on Tuesday morning and conducted searches of both their homes and Ashkelon's municipality building. Documents, computers and other property were seized. 

The Ashkelon Municipality said in a statement it was "cooperating police investigators and assisting as needed."