Police opened an official criminal investigation on Wednesday into accusations of sexual assault leveled against screenwriter and producer Gal Uchovsky, one of the most prominent LGBT rights activists in Israel.
The investigation, which follows a general inquiry opened on Tuesday, comes after the Kan public broadcaster published testimonies of two men who said that Uchovsky sexually assaulted them in recent years.
In response to the Monday exposé, Uchovsky, a popular TV personality, apologized and said he would be stepping down as president of IGY – Israel Gay Youth, a leading nonprofit organization serving LGBTQ youth in Israel.
Writing on Facebook Tuesday, Uchovsky did not deny sexual interactions with the accusers but said, “I’ve never tried to force myself on anyone, and I’ll take any polygraph test to prove it.”
He stressed that he had “never, ever, intended to hurt anyone.”
“When the allegations of misconduct were made against me, my stomach tightened. I felt a severe sense of personal disappointment, for not realizing it in real time, and especially great distress over the fact that my dear friends in the community had been hurt by me,” Uchovsky said.
“I ask for direct, honest and pure forgiveness from anyone who has felt discomfort or embarrassment or disappointment from me,” he wrote.
The first of the anonymous members of the LGBTQ community claimed that Uchovsky assaulted him a year and a half ago during a prearranged sexual encounter between them, during which the IGY chairman violated the boundaries the two had agreed upon previously.
“It happened from the first moment,” he said.
“Some button was switched and he communicated like an animal, not like a human. More than five times, he tried to forcibly flip me over, to insert his fingers inside of me, to touch and to reach that area in every way possible.”
The complainant told Kan that he clearly stated his refusal, but that Uchovsky did not stop.
A second complainant told the broadcaster that, several years ago, during a work meeting with Uchovsky, the activist suddenly “leaped at me and started kissing me.”
“I tried to shove him away. He forced himself on me despite my objection, until he finished,” the second complainant recalled.
In response to the report, Uchovsky said he was not aware that the first man had not consented and apologized “out of understanding and sensitivity.” He said he did not receive sufficient details to comment on the second testimony, but “once that’s the feeling, he also apologizes to the second complainant.”
Separately, Etai Pinkas Arad, who holds the LGBT portfolio at Tel Aviv City Hall, was accused of sexual misconduct on Wednesday, with two men saying he had sexual relations with them when he met them as teens through a youth group.