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Police issue arrest warrant for top modeling agent accused of sexual abuse

Shai Avital reportedly asked to return from Hungary to Israel where he will be taken into custody and questioned over allegations he harassed 26 former clients and colleagues

Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital speaks with Channel 12 news. (Video screenshot)
Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital speaks with Channel 12 news. (Video screenshot)

Police on Sunday reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital, who represents some of the country’s top models, as part of an investigation against him in which he has been accused of 26 cases of sexual harassment.

Avital, who currently resides in Hungary, was told by Israeli authorities to return to Israel immediately where he would be taken into custody and questioned over the allegations, Hebrew media outlets reported.

His lawyers had previously said that he would come to Israel if summoned.

Police launched the criminal investigation into Avital in July after media reports said that he had harassed multiple former clients and colleagues.

Twenty-six separate claims have now reportedly been made against him.

The probe, which is being led by the Tel Aviv Police District’s investigative wing, was opened after Channel 13 news released evidence of Avital sending models threatening messages, including police complaints ready to be submitted, if they were to accuse him of sexual abuse.

In an illustrative image, Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital (R) poses for a picture with models during an event on a rooftop in Tel Aviv, on September 17, 2017 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90 )

In leaked text messages, Avital appeared to boast that he has connections with the police, and he was not afraid of any complaints against him.

According to documents released by the network, in 2009 Avital paid NIS 120,000 ($35,000) to model Israela Avtau after he sexually assaulted her in his office. The incident was apparently kept under wraps, and Avital continued his career as an agent.

Sexual messages allegedly sent by Avital to a number of women, including minors, were also shown by the network.

A number of women also claimed Avital exposed himself in front of them, including at least one case that resulted in them having sex afterward, which continued on a regular basis, 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 date back over the past two decades.

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