Popular Haredi radio host accused of sexually assaulting multiple women

Lawyer for Dudi Shwamenfeld denies allegations, says Ynet news site is seeking to capitalize on attention focused on ultra-Orthodox sexual abuse cases after Walder saga

Haredi radio host Dudi Shwamenfeld recording at the Kol Berama radio station on July 1, 2009. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Haredi radio host Dudi Shwamenfeld recording at the Kol Berama radio station on July 1, 2009. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Dudi Shwamenfeld has been named as the Haredi radio host accused by multiple women of sexual abuse.

News of the story broke earlier this month, when it emerged that at least six women had accused the then-unnamed radio host of sexual assault. Now, according to the Ynet news site, at least one of the complainants has filed an official police complaint against Shwamenfeld, a longtime host on the popular Kol Berama radio station that serves the ultra-Orthodox community.

The woman, now 31, told Ynet that she was 19 when she first heard Shwamenfeld’s radio show and decided to reach out to him via Facebook. “We started to correspond. At a certain point he suggested we meet, but I didn’t want to,” she said. But she said Shwamenfeld convinced her to meet and “promised it would be interesting.”

Shwamenfeld asked her to meet him inside his Bnei Brak apartment, she claimed, saying that he did not want to be seen in public with a woman. “I went upstairs to his home, we spoke a little… then he pushed me against the wall in a very aggressive way,” she said. She alleged that he forcibly kissed her and pushed his hand inside her underwear. “I tried to struggle, but he used his weight to block me,” she said, before he forced her into his bedroom and pinned her down on the bed.

“I shouted ‘get off me,’ but it didn’t help,” she told Ynet. “I went berserk, I fought him like in a movie, and he resisted even further.” She said she eventually managed to free herself and fled to the living room. He followed, grabbed her hand and forced her to touch his genitals, the woman alleged.

Multiple other women told Ynet anonymously of similar assault allegations, including one who said she was 16 when the abuse began.

Josiane Paris, 73, a volunteer at the Tahel Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children, is pictured in Jerusalem on January 5, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Shwamenfeld, who ran for Knesset unsuccessfully in 2015 with Eli Yishai’s now-defunct Yachad party, denied any such allegations.

As of Monday afternoon, Shwamenfeld was still listed on the Kol Berama website as one of its hosts, but he has not appeared on the show at all in 2022. On the January 2 episode, his co-host said Shwamenfeld was absent due to COVID; by January 12, Shwamenfeld’s name had been removed from the show’s intro; and on Sunday, a new recorded intro with Shwamenfeld’s replacement was put in place.

The claims against Shwamenfeld were publicized, without naming him, on January 4. The radio station did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An attorney for Shwamenfeld claimed that the stories are fake and an attempt to smear his client and gain attention.

“Such anonymous publications are the refuge of every villain and coward,” the attorney told Ynet. “The temptation to publish false information about my client is high, especially these days, when attributing sexual abuse to the ultra-Orthodox gets a higher-than-usual rating.”

The story about Shwamenfeld was first published just days after the suicide of Chaim Walder, a popular Haredi author who was accused of multiple accounts of sexual assault and rape, including against minors.

The Walder story has been hailed as a potential turning point for the approach to sexual abuse cases within the Haredi community.

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