The Military Advocate General on Thursday indicted IDF Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris for rape, sodomy and sexual assault against two female subordinates between 2010 and 2012. He denied the charges.
The indictment against Buchris was filed following a lengthy inquiry by chief MAG prosecutor Sharon Afek. Buchris was also charged with conduct unbecoming an IDF officer.
The IDF said in a statement that while news of the indictment was met with a “heavy heart,” the ongoing investigation into Buchris had “uncovered allegations that the officer in question committed a number of serious sex offenses against a female soldier and junior officer that served under him when he was the commander of the Golani Brigade.”
Under Israeli law, sodomy constitutes either oral or anal sex when the perpetrator exploits “authority in the workplace or in [national] service.”
Buchris, 47, a highly decorated officer who was thought to be on the fast track to head the IDF, has vehemently denied the accusations by both women.
He was set to be appointed head of the army’s Operations Division in March, but IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot rescinded the appointment amid the investigation into the rape allegations.
The attorneys representing one of the alleged victims, a junior officer who only admitted to the assault when questioned by investigators, said in a statement their client hoped the court would deal with Buchris “appropriately.”
“The officer was caught up in this case not by her own choice, and had never initiated a complaint against Gen. Buchris, and she was prepared to move on with her life,” the attorneys’ statement said. “The officer is confident the justice system will handle the case appropriately.”
Reports of the initial allegations in March sent shock waves through the IDF and the rest of the country, as Buchris’s previously glowing reputation was suddenly called into question.
According to reports at the time, the first soldier to make allegations told investigators that she knew of another soldier, a Golani officer, who had been sexually assaulted by Buchris as well. Several days later, the second woman came forward and accused Buchris.
Burchris dismissed the indictment, breaking his silence for the first time since the allegations against him were made.
“I was shocked to hear the indictment was filed,” he told journalists outside his Galilee home. “The allegations are not true, but everything will be made clear in court. Anyone examining the evidence will see the accusations are baseless.” He added that the trial would be “the fight for my life, and I am going to win it.”
The attorneys representing Buchris said the prosecution’s case against the general was “seriously flawed.”
“We regret the fundamentally flawed decision made by the Military Advocate General,” they said in a statement Thursday. “We are confident we will be able to continue fighting and prove the innocence of Gen. Buchris in court and justice will be served.”
In the weeks after the allegations were made, Buchris took at least two lie detector tests, with attorneys challenging their results. In the first, commissioned by Buchris, he was seen as telling the truth. The second test, performed by military prosecutors, had “problematic” results for the general, investigators told the defense attorneys in the case.
Channel 2 on Thursday published a letter written to Buchris by one of his alleged victims, in which she explained to him the deep trauma he caused her.
In the letter, the former soldier said that she was “blinded by his authority and power,” and that Buchris created intimate situations in which she felt obligated to sleep with him against her will.
“As I process the things that have happened, I understand that you took advantage of me. You took advantage of my loyalty, my innocence, the fact that I wouldn’t tell anyone what happened behind closed doors, you took advantage of your power and the knowledge that no can can refuse you,” she wrote. “The purpose of this letter is first to make you understand that you’ve left a large, deep scar in my soul.”
According to the report, she wrote Buchris the letter after years of psychological treatment, and the general destroyed the missive after receiving it.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.