search

Police probe sexual assault claims against LGBT activist Gal Uchovsky

Investigation opened after 2 men allege TV personality assaulted them in recent years; Uchovsky: ‘I’ve never tried to force myself on anyone’

Filmmaker Gal Uchovsky at the Knesset, on June 4, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/ File)
Filmmaker Gal Uchovsky at the Knesset, on June 4, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/ File)

Police opened an investigation on Tuesday into accusations of sexual assault leveled against screenwriter and producer Gal Uchovsky, one of the most prominent LGBT rights activists in Israel.

The investigation came after the Kan public broadcaster on Monday published testimonies of two men who say that Uchovsky sexually assaulted them in recent years.

In response to the 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 following the announcement of the probe against him, 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.

Gal Uchovsky at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court, Aug 17, 2011 (Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)

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 says.

“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 latter 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.”

“As someone who has dedicated his life to the [LGBT] community, Gal has decided that his responsibility compels him to stop his service as president of IGY,” said a statement on Uchovsky’s behalf. “The organization is his life’s work, and he doesn’t want this great organization to be stained.”

In its own response to the report, IGY said it had accepted Uchovsky’s resignation.

“We hope that the events described in the investigation will be quickly clarified. The last few years have brought a new spirit creating a safety net for complainants. This spirit must also enter the LGBT community and we, as the leading and largest organization in charge of thousands of volunteers, take it upon ourselves to play a significant role in building and changing the discourse [on this issue],” IGY added.

“Our digital hotlines are open and our instructors are attentive to anyone who would like to talk, share, or consult about these matters and any issue related to them. We are committed to full confidentiality and immediate clarification of any complaint,” the group said.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed