A man who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s driver was arrested on suspicion that he sexually assaulted several young girls over a period of several years.
Ilan Shmuel, 52, from Moshav Zecharia, was arrested last month on suspicion of rape, indecent assault, and sodomy.
A gag order protecting Shmuel’s identity was lifted Thursday at the request of the police, who argued it was in the public interest.
Police first began an investigation into Shmuel two years ago after a woman, now an adult, claimed the suspect had sexually assaulted her from when she was 9 until she was 16. Investigators discovered nine more women and young girls who may have been victims of Shmuel, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
All of the attacks were allegedly carried out when the victims were at a young age.
In the intervening period Shmuel continued to work as a driver at the Prime Minister’s Office, including duties behind the wheel of Netanyahu’s limousine.
The Civil Service Commission ordered Shmuel on administrative leave last month after becoming aware of the accusations against him. Soon after, he was arrested.
The commission’s disciplinary department opened an investigation to discover how the security lapse could have happened, and who had failed to report the criminal proceedings against the driver.
Shmuel’s family rejected the accusations and claimed they were part of a smear campaign connected to a dispute over land ownership.
“This is a good-hearted man who has become caught up in a family fight over land, and as a result charges were filed against him to ruin him,” a source close to the accused driver said.
The Prime Minister’s Office said that it had acted under direction of the Civil Service Commission and the worker was instructed to take forced leave.