The respondent, the manager of the Postmen Department at the Benei Berak branch of the Postal Authority, was acquitted of sexually harassing and victimizing a temporary employee, but convicted of unbecoming conduct. The Civil Service Disciplinary Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) found that the respondent promised to a promotion to the complainant, that he had conducted a sexual relationship with the complainant, and that he tried to prevent the complainant from making a complaint against him, which stated that he visited her apartment for several months and had sexual intercourse with her against her will. As a result, the complainant felt exploited and humiliated. The Tribunal held that the State failed to prove that the respondent abused his authority. The Tribunal then approved the sentencing agreement that the parties reached, although it admitted it was lenient. On appeal by the state, the Supreme Court held that the respondent’s power to influence the professional future of the workers was considerable and that he held a position of considerable power over the complainant, who was 22 years old at the time of the conduct while the respondent was 20 years older than her, which added to the his control. It follows that the complainant consented to the sexual acts was given because the respondent abused his authority over her, and therefore it was not a voluntary and genuine consent but instead “prohibited consensual intercourse.” The Court stated that “abuse of authority” need not involve a direct threat; in sexual harassment cases such abuse may be “express or implied, direct or indirect” and is no less potent if it is “in a veiled manner.” The Court added a one-year suspension from any managerial position to the sentence imposed by the lower Tribunal, explaining that this still amounted to a lenient punishment for the offense committed.
Israel v. Ben-Hayim