Senior cop cleared of sexual harassment, will return to post
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Senior cop cleared of sexual harassment, will return to post

Police chief Roni Alsheich cites inability to take disciplinary action due to minor nature of offenses, statute of limitations

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Chief of Police Roni Alsheich, at the National Police Headquarters, Jerusalem, December 03, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Chief of Police Roni Alsheich, at the National Police Headquarters, Jerusalem, December 03, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Chief of Police Roni Alsheich announced on Tuesday that a top police officer accused of sexual harassment would be reinstated in his position as head of the force’s anti-corruption unit and no disciplinary action will be taken against him.

Police said in a statement that Alsheich made the decision to reinstall Maj. Gen. Roni Rittman as commander of Lahav 433 “after a broad and thorough discussion, in the framework of which he was presented with recommendations of the disciplinary department of the human resources department and the recommendations of the police legal adviser.”

“There are no real grounds for any administrative or even disciplinary measures, even if the statute of limitations weren’t applicable, and Rittman will therefore remain in his post,” Aschleich said.

However, police noted that “the chief found it fitting to stress to the officer the expected norms of behavior from an officer of his standing and position.”

Rittman, 51, was accused of two instances of sexual harassment, including kissing a female subordinate against her will five years ago. He has denied the allegations against him and said that a senior officer in the Israel Police’s intelligence unit was trying to frame him. During the course of the investigation, Rittman was put on mandatory leave but returned to work on Tuesday in light of Alsheich’s decision.

Head of the Lahav 433 police anti-corruption unit Roni Rittman, arrives at the Police Investigation Department, Jerusalem, December, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Head of the Lahav 433 police anti-corruption unit Roni Rittman, arrives at the Police Investigation Department, Jerusalem, December, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Last week Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to close the case against Rittman.

The decision was made due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the alleged offenses, the relatively minor nature of the offenses, and the circumstances surrounding the timing of the recent complaint — the female officer and a senior intelligence officer who backed her up are involved in an ongoing dispute with Rittman, reports said.

Rittman has held the position of head of the Lahav 433 unit since August 2014, making him one of the highest-ranking officers in the Israel Police. The unit has been involved in some of Israel’s most sensitive cases, including a corruption scandal involving politicians in the Yisrael Beytenu party. The former head of the anti-corruption unit, Menashe Arviv, stepped down in 2014 over corruption allegations.

The past few years have seen a string of sexual misconduct cases involving top police officers, many of whom were forced to retire due to the allegations against them. In all, about half of the Israel Police’s major generals — the highest rank below that of the police commissioner — have been accused of such abuse, and many of them have stepped down.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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