Modeling agent suspected of sexual abuse arrives in Israel after Dutch extradition
Shai Avital, facing dozens of sexual harassment complaints, to be presented with police evidence against him; investigators plan to confront him with two alleged victims
Modeling agent Shai Avital landed in Israel on Tuesday to face a slew of sexual harassment complaints following his extradition from the Netherlands, 18 months after Israeli police first sought to investigate him for serial sexual abuse.
Avital, 45, was accompanied by Tel Aviv Police representatives on the flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, following the decision by a Dutch court in November to extradite the Israeli.
The modeling agent was taken directly from the airport to police offices in Tel Aviv for questioning, police said.
Avital was set to be brought for a remand hearing in the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
As part of its investigation, police intend to confront Avital with two women who allege that the modeling agent sexually abused them.
Video shared on social media showed Avital leaving the plane at Ben Gurion Airport under police escort.
שי אביטל נחת בארץ ונלקח לחקירה. קרדיט: @daniel_elazar pic.twitter.com/ubgHFaR2Om
— דוד קשת (@davidkeshe) January 3, 2023
Earlier, Hebrew media outlets published footage of Avital sitting at the back of a commercial flight, alongside two security guards.
Avital, who was unhandcuffed, could be seen smiling as reporters asked him whether he had anything to say to the victims, to which he did not respond.
However, later in the flight, Avital told reporters: “I have a lot to say, and after I give my version of events in the investigation, you’ll hear a lot from me,” before adding that his time in Dutch custody “was not easy,” the Ynet news site reported.
שותק, מחייך ולא אומר מילה – שי אביטל עלה על המטוס בדרך לישראל | תיעוד@daniel_elazar pic.twitter.com/9oxwouNwrw
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) January 3, 2023
A passenger on the plane reportedly told Avital that given the volume of complaints against him, he should be “put in a cell already.”
Attorney Ben Maoz, representing some of those who have complained about the suspect, told Ynet: “Avital is a person who should not be trusted, and he should remain detained until the end of the proceedings against him.”
Avital’s legal representatives said in a statement that their client “will give his version to police.”
Authorities said they are seeking to place Avital on trial on two separate counts of sexual misconduct, the State Attorney’s Office said in an earlier statement, though police have said they are investigating additional complaints.
Investigative reports about Avital’s conduct toward women have been published by Israeli journalists as early as 2008, but an official criminal investigation began only in July 2021, after Channel 13 news released evidence of Avital sending models threatening messages.
Messages of a sexual nature allegedly sent by Avital to several women, including minors, were also shown by the network.
Several women also claimed Avital exposed himself in front of them, including at least one case that resulted in them having sex afterward, which continued regularly after Avital promised the apparent victim would be featured on a popular reality show.
Other women accused him of forcibly groping, kissing and licking their faces. The allegations span the past two decades.
In leaked text messages, Avital appeared to boast that he had connections with the police and was not afraid of any complaints against him.