Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is to request that the attorney general open a criminal investigation into sexual harassment charges by at least two women against the head of the Nazareth District Court, according to a Channel 2 report Sunday.
The case involves a prosecutor who filed sexual harassment charges against Judge Yitzhak Cohen two years ago, but whose claims were never investigated.
In addition, a different woman — who is related to the judge — has already been questioned by police, according to Israel daily Yedioth Ahronoth, but the statute of limitations on her allegations, apparently from over 10 years ago, has run out.
Three other women, some of them court employees, are set to testify this week, after which Cohen will likely be summoned to an interrogation under caution.
The women are expected to say the judge touched them inappropriately and made unwanted romantic overtures.
However, the prosecutor who filed the initial complaint with the state attorney has refused to be questioned.
Following the accusations two years ago, Cohen’s name was removed from a list of Supreme Court candidates.
Livni pledged to deal with the case “with the utmost severity,” and told Israel daily Haaretz that “the court system must be more correct, more right, more moral than any other system — only in this way can it uphold the public trust.”
“If there was whitewashing and a cover-up, that is unacceptable,” Livni added.
According to a legal source cited in the paper, the evidence presented at the time was not substantial enough to call for a full police investigation.
Haaretz also reported that, during a court proceeding several years ago, Cohen turned to the court typist to ask her whether she had recorded something said in the courtroom. “I didn’t think it was necessary,” was the response, to which the judge responded: “At home with your husband you can think, but not here in my courtroom.”
However, judges who worked with Cohen described him as affable, and said they were shocked at the accusations leveled against him.
Marissa Newman contributed to this report.