Jewish Home lawmaker Nissan Slomiansky was named Thursday as the party member accused of sexual harassment in a Facebook post alleging multiple complaints against him, Army Radio reported Thursday morning.
Following an investigation by a team of rabbis affiliated with the religious Zionist party, Slomiansky, 70, is expected to publicly apologize for his actions and step down from his position as head of the Knesset Justice and Law Committee, according to the report.
But in a statement responding to the report, Slomianski denied “ever assaulting women,” saying only that after meeting with the rabbis he understood his “well-known loving nature may have been misinterpreted.”
The Jewish Home party was rocked two weeks ago by allegations swirling on social media that a senior party member had sexually assaulted women over a period of several years.
Posting on Facebook, Jewish Home activist Chagit Moriah-Gibor said she and several other women were collecting testimony against a lawmaker who was known to have been “assaulting women for years already.”
Saying that no victims had been willing to lodge an official complaint, she urged women to come forward, though she did not name the lawmaker.
“The stories are mounting and the silence is very deafening to me,” Moriah-Gibor wrote. “There is a serving MK that attacks and has been assaulting women for years already. I know of an old incident and recently I heard additional outrageous stories. The problem: the price that those women will pay is too great and they are not prepared to talk.”
The claims appear to be of both sexual harassment and assault, including allegations of “serious physical harassment,” Army Radio said Thursday.
Police did not say if an investigation had been opened.
Following the post, Jewish Home chair Naftali Bennett spoke with Slomianky, who denied any wrongdoing, the party said in a statement.
Bennett too urged anyone who may have been harmed to come forward and lodge a complaint.
According to Army Radio, Slomiansky has decided to publicly apologize on advice of the rabbis who looked into the case, including Safed Chief Rabbi and religious Zionist heavyweight Shmuel Eliyahu.
In his response, Slomiansky did not confirm or deny that he would apologize or consider stepping down from any public position.
Speaking to Army Radio Thursday, Moriah-Gibor said she felt “a big sense of relief” that Slomiansky had finally been named, but expected him to resign from the Knesset rather than just step down as a committee chair.
“It has been a hard two weeks in which many accusations were made against me and I have been waiting until this can be revealed and I can put it behind me,” she said. “Of course he should step down from the Knesset. I think that the public needs to demand that he resign.”
Rumors of inappropriate behavior by the Slomianky first surfaced before the last election in March 2015, according to Hebrew media reports. In the weeks before the vote, the party chiefs were reportedly informed of the allegations by women who had worked with the lawmaker in the past.
However, senior party officials were unable to convince any of the women to file a complaint with police.
This is not the first time a lawmaker from the Jewish Home party has faced allegations of sexual harassment.
In November 2015, Yinon Magal resigned from the Knesset over sexual assault claims. In February, the Tel Aviv district attorney’s office announced it halted the probe into Magal after police said they had not found enough evidence to recommend an indictment.
Police had investigated Magal on suspicion that he harassed female subordinates while working as a journalist before entering politics. During the investigation, police gathered testimony from women who had worked for Magal over the years, including when he was editor of the Walla news website.
“Yinon Magal resigned for much less than Slomiansky,” Moriah-Gibor told Army Radio Thursday.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.