A complainant who accused an ex-IDF general of raping her when she served under his command insisted Wednesday that an emerging plea deal require the officer take responsibility for his actions and not give the impression there was a romantic relationship between the two.
In return for admitting to certain sexual offenses, Ofek Buchris will not be charged with the far more serious crimes he stands accused of. The deal was worked out in a mediation process.
Buchris faces 16 charges — three of rape, one of sodomy and six of indecent acts against a lower-ranking female soldier and a further six counts of indecent acts against a second female soldier. He was indicted in July for the crimes alleged to have taken place between 2010 and 2012.
The first complainant and her attorneys met Wednesday with military prosecutors to review details of the mediation.
According to Channel 2, the woman, who cannot be named in media, has agreed to the deal in which the charge sheet will recognize she objected to having sex with Buchris, while acknowledging that the former officer didn’t understand her refusal.
Avital Ben-Nun, the attorney representing the complainant, told reporters after the meeting that she stressed to prosecutors that there should not be any attempt to suggest there had been a romantic relationship between Buchris and her client.
“There is not and there will not be any claim that the complainant agreed to the acts, or that she was interested in them, or that there was a romance between them,” she said after the meeting.
Ben-Nun added that Buchris must also take full responsibility for his actions and not try to pass off any admission of wrongdoing as being just in the interest of reaching a plea deal.
“As far as we are concerned any attempt on the part of the accused to retract from his agreement to this and to explain it as some sort of utilitarian consideration will lead to our objecting to the deal,” she said.
If the accusers come out against the deal, the case will return to the jurisdiction of the Chief Military Prosecution.
An admission of having committed sexual offenses would constitute a serious reversal for Buchris, who has vehemently denied all of the charges against him.
Orit Sulitzeanu, director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, panned the legal wrangling as being too lenient on the officer, Channel 2 reported.
“The emerging plea bargain with Buchris is outrageous,” Sulitzeanu said. “Buchris’s strong denials have been revealed as groundless and suddenly, the revered officer admits he committed serious sex offenses against those under his command. Such a senior officer must not escape without serious punishment. It is inconceivable that he won’t pay for what he has done, and won’t sit behind bars.”
It is unclear what punishment Buchris will receive if he admits to sexual offenses, or whether he will be demoted. Channel 2 reported Tuesday that he is not expected to agree to a deal that involves jail time.
Buchris officially resigned from the IDF in July in order to manage his legal defense as a civilian.
Reports of the initial allegations in March sent shock waves through the IDF and the rest of the country, with Buchris’s previously glowing reputation suddenly called into question.
According to reports at the time, the first soldier to make allegations told investigators that she knew of another soldier, an officer in the Golani Brigade, who was also sexually assaulted by Buchris. Several days later, the second woman came forward to accuse him.