Yaakov Edri, the mayor of the city of Or Akiva and a former government minister, is suspected of rape, along with other serious offenses, a court cleared for publication on Wednesday.
Edri was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of having committed a series of corruption offenses, including bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
There had been a gag order on the publication of police suspicions that Edri had also perpetrated a series of violent sex crimes against female employees in the mayor’s office, including rape. The gag order expired Wednesday after police did not request their renewal, in a decision that appeared to be aimed at encouraging additional women to come forward.
The mayor has denied all allegations against him.
Edri is a former MK for the Likud and Kadima parties, having served in the Knesset between 2003 and 2013. He was also health minister, immigration minister, and minister for the development of the periphery, the Negev and the Galilee.
After extending his remand four times since the initial arrest, the court agreed to release Edri to a ten-day house arrest.
In light of the allegations against him, the Or Akiva municipality announced that it would be selecting an interim mayor on Thursday to serve in Edri’s stead.
Edri’s arrest was part of a broader police corruption probe into the Or Akiva municipality that was launched a year ago. Dozens of suspects have been detained for questioning in recent weeks. Edri and others are suspected of having promoted various tenders and permits in exchange for benefits.
Police suspect that Orly Yehezkel, who served as Edri’s righthand woman in the municipality, brokered the series of bribes on the mayor’s behalf.
The investigation’s findings indicated that vouchers meant to reach the needy in Or Akiva were transferred to the mayor’s cronies and used to purchase expensive clothes and other luxuries.
Ezekiel is also suspected of conspiracy to commit a crime, fraud, forgery, theft, money laundering and income tax offenses.
She was pressured by police to turn state’s witness against Edri and hand over incriminating evidence against him.
Edri’s defense team issued a statement asserting that the allegations against their client are unfounded and that the sexual assault claims were made in order to smear the mayor’s reputation.