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Top policeman sex scandal dominates Israeli media
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A senior Israeli law enforcement officer has been accused of sexual harassment on the eve of the naming of a new national chief of police -- a post for which he was one of the leading candidates.
Social worker Orly Ines has accused Uri Bar Lev, the Israeli police representative in the United States, of using force in an attempt to have an intimate encounter, according to local media.
Bar Lev has denied any wrongdoing. "I have not been summoned for an inquiry," he told reporters on arriving home from the United States. "I have come of my own accord and you will see that I did not do anything wrong."
A close friend of Bar Lev, himself a former police chief, said the incident occurred two years ago and had only surfaced now because of the imminent appointment.
"I was not surprised by attempts to block the appointment of Bar Lev. It is clear that it has all come in the run-up to the appointment and he is one of the candidates," Assaf Hefetz told reporters.
Bar Lev was later confronted with further allegations of sexual misconduct involving drugs with other women. Media reports said he failed a lie-detector test.
Ines has separately levelled sexual harassment accusations against a senior official of the Internal Security ministry that oversees the police, who recently resigned.
Reports of the case at first identified Ines only by an initial but on Thursday she broke her silence at a Tel Aviv rally and revealed her identity.
"I am not hiding and I'm not ashamed," she said in a speech. "I didn't do anything wrong ... I am here tonight to represent the silent, hesitant and frightened voices of all the victims."
Ines, a striking blonde in her mid-40s, was formerly a senior consultant to the Internal Security ministry on domestic violence and had professional contact with its officials.
LATEST IN A SERIES
Allegations of sexual harassment and impropriety against senior officials are not new in Israel but the latest affair, involving Bar Lev, thought to be one of the favourites to become the country's next top policeman has seized public attention.
It is the second in months to break right ahead of the appointment of a top official, following an affair in which a military officer admitted forging a document that tried to influence the naming of Israel's new army chief.
The forgery falsely alleged that Major-General Yoav Galant hired a public relations agent to discredit his rivals.
It prompted Defence Minister Ehud Barak to hasten the appointment of Galant, the former commander of Israel's southern front who led a month-long Gaza war last year, to the top job.
On Dec. 28, a Jerusalem court is due to deliver a verdict in the case of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, charged with rape and other grave sexual offences.
(Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Maria Golovnina)
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