Police arrested a senior doctor on Sunday on suspicion of multiple sex offenses against female patients in his care, including at least one minor, allegedly assaulting them under the guise of medical treatment.
The doctor, in his 60s and a resident of the central Gush Dan region of the country, works at a public hospital as well as at a private clinic and is suspected to have committed the offenses over a number of years, Israel Police said in a statement.
Among his suspected crimes is the rape of a girl under the age of 14, police said.
According to Hebrew media reports, the hospital is in Tel Aviv and the doctor is a professor who heads a gastroenterology department.
The doctor “took advantage of the plight of the patients, and in most cases the alleged sexual offenses were committed under the guise of treatment,” police said.
The arrest followed an undercover investigation together with Tel Aviv District prosecutors into the allegations against the doctor, who was not named in the police statement. With the arrest, police also seized documents and other evidence that may be relevant to the case.
The suspect is to be brought for a remand hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Police said they are prepared for the possibility that more women will come forward as a result of the details of the case being publicized.
Authorities first became aware of the matter when a woman filed a complaint with the hospital’s sexual harassment official two months ago alleging the doctor had raped her nine years earlier when she was a minor, according to reports.
The woman who filed the complaint initially refused to go to the police, but was eventually persuaded to do so, according to reports. Another of those allegedly assaulted by the doctor is the mother of a patient who was a minor.
As the investigation progressed, police were in contact with women and girls from across the country who were allegedly victims of the doctor, the statement said.
Reports quoted victims as describing the doctor as “God” because of his ability to treat their difficult medical conditions and saying they felt “betrayed” by his assaults.
The hospital in question told Channel 12 News that “the hospital is cooperating with investigators.”
Hagit Pe’er, head of the Na’amat women’s rights group, described the case as “shocking” and called for moral support to be given those women who came forward.
“It is horrible to discover that a person like this carried out his acts in a place that was supposed to be the safest place that there is for those women, such as a hospital or medical clinic,” she said.