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Police launch probe of modeling agent for alleged sexual abuse

Second criminal complaint filed against Shai Avital, as TV airs testimonies of sexual assault

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 Monday launched a criminal investigation into Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital, who represents some of the country’s top models and has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple former clients and colleagues.

The opening of the probe came after a police complaint was filed against Avital and television reports were aired detailing the allegations against him. A second complaint was filed on Monday evening.

Police expect more women to come forward, according to Channel 12 news.

The probe is being led by the Tel Aviv Police District’s investigative wing.

On Saturday, 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 leaked text messages, Avital appeared to boast that he has connections with the police, and he is 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, the network said.

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