Top modeling agent accused of sexual abuse over the past 2 decades

Channel 13 releases evidence of Shai Avital’s abusive and predatory text messages to clients, and airs multiple testimonies of sexual assault

Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital speaks with Channel 12 news. (Video screenshot)
Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital speaks with Channel 12 news. (Video screenshot)

Israeli modeling agent Shai Avital, who represents some of the country’s top models, has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple former clients and colleagues.

The first alleged incident dates back to 2005, when Avital and the CEO of the Israeli Fashion Channel television station were arrested after allegedly forcing themselves on a model in a Tel Aviv nightclub.

The case was closed due to lack of evidence in December 2009, according to the Ynet news site.

Channel 13 on Saturday released evidence of Avital sending models threatening messages, including police complaints ready to be submitted if they were to accuse him of sexual abuse.

In leaked text messages, Avital appeared to boast that he has connections with the police, and he is not afraid of any complaints against him.

His former office secretary appeared to confirm the text messages, saying in a phone call released by Channel 13 that he “has no problem if you go to the police, because he knows everyone there.”

Israeli modeling agent Shay Avital is seen with a number of his clients. (Screenshot: Channel 13)

According to documents released by the network, in 2009 Avital paid NIS 120,000 ($35,000) to model Israela Avtau, after he sexually assaulted her in his office. The incident was apparently kept under wraps, and Avital continued his career as an agent.

Sexual messages allegedly sent by Avital to a number of women, including minors, were also shown by the network.

A number of allegations also claimed Avital exposed himself in front of them, including at least one case that resulted in them having sex afterward, which continued on a regular basis after Avital promised the apparent victim would be featured on a popular reality show.

Other women accused him of forcibly groping, kissing, and licking their faces. The allegations date back over the past two decades, the network said.

“Like many, I came to him with a dream of being a model. He was a serious agent and his reputation receded him. When I was 19 he tried to kiss me, suddenly,” model Hila Krugman wrote in a Saturday Instagram post.

“It was the only time he tried to force himself on me physically. Now that I hear testimonies from other girls, I was probably ‘lucky,'” Krugman added.

Police have recently begun to look into the allegations, according to the Ynet news site. After which, the investigations department will decide if a criminal investigation is required, the report said.

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