A psychotherapist from the town of Even Yehuda in central Israel is being held by police on suspicion of rape and other sexual offenses against female patients.
The police investigation was opened last week following a complaint from a woman who claimed that Yariv Cohen assaulted her when she came to him for therapy. Since then, four additional women have filed complaints against Cohen, the latest one on Wednesday. Some of the women described a similar pattern in which Cohen would cross boundaries during sessions.
“I asked him why I had to take off my bra,” one of the complainants, identified by her Hebrew initial, Samech, told police, according to Channel 12. “He massaged my chest and he would massage my calves very hard and invade my groin. It was unpleasant.”
Another complainant against Cohen, identified by her initial, Lamed, said she had sought therapy when her daughter was sick with cancer. “I came to him wearing tattered sweatpants with the smell of chemo from the oncology department,” Lamed described her meetings with Cohen and recounted the moment of the alleged attack.
“He suddenly grabbed me tightly,” she said. “At first I froze, but then I confronted him and tried to extricate himself. He simply did not let go. He grabbed tightly and hurt me so much that a week later I was still in pain.”
Through his lawyers, the 50-year-old Cohen denied the suspicions against him.
One of Cohen’s defense attorneys, Ami Talmor, cast doubt on the original complainant’s account. “It is a matter of his word against hers,” Talmor said after Cohen was detained. “And the same complainant continued to return to [Cohen for] treatment for over a year, and during that time she sent messages in which she thanked him.”
According to Cohen’s website, his expertise is treating trauma victims and the treatments he provides include conversation and touch.
Cohen’s identity was initially withheld by a gag order. His defense attorneys had argued that publishing his name and image would severely damage his reputation and damage the health of his mother-in-law. It was only on Tuesday, after several women lodged additional complaints, that Judge Ariel Salto of Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court ruled in favor of releasing Cohen’s identity.
“The investigation has developed and progressed, and the reasonable suspicion against the suspect has been strengthened as two additional complainants have been added,” Salto said.
Cohen’s case comes a few months after Jerusalem-based psychotherapist Yuval Carmi was convicted of sexually abusing two of his patients and sentenced to 39 months in prison. Carmi, who expressed regret after his sentencing, was also ordered to pay a total of NIS 130,000 ($37,000) as compensation to his victims.
A hearing will be held at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Thursday to determine whether Cohen will remain in custody.