An Israeli source has provided me a transcript of the statement that the victim I call P. gave to police as part of her complaint against Israel’s Channel 2 news reporter, Yoav Even when she accused him of raping her. The source also provided a photograph of the injuries she sustained from her sexual encounter which show deep red contusions in several places on her back. She also sent screenshots of Facebook messages sent to P. by Even’s colleagues at Channel 2 which appear suspiciously like obstruction of justice.
Because the case has been dropped by the prosecutor for “lack of sufficient evidence” and because there is still a gag order in place protecting Even’s identity from being exposed inside Israel, and because I believe there is the potential of a serious miscarriage of justice here, I am publishing a paraphrase of the materials offered to me. I have physical copies of every document I mention here and every conversation I paraphrase is contained verbatim in one or another of them.
I wish to make clear that the source who provided this material to me has no direct connection to the case. The only condition requested was that I not reveal the identity of the victim. I want to thank a small group of Israeli journalists, sexual violence activists and translator Dena Shunra for their assistance in pursuing this case and understanding the implications of it both for the victim, suspect and Israeli society.
This is not the sort of material I normally publish here. I’ve never written graphically about a sex act and it makes me queasy to do so here. But almost all of you will understand why it was important that I do so in this case. This material no doubt would hurt P. if she were to read it and this is why I normally would never do such a thing. However, given the need to prove the credibility of her charges, I thought it important to convey precisely what happened as she tells it.
I want to preface this narrative with an important fact that has colored this case and perverted it from the beginning. Judge Beni Sagi issued a gag order that prevented Israelis from reporting Even’s name or any details of the case. I’ve blogged here before about the pernicious effect that this has had on the process of justice and the public’s right to know. I am writing about this case not just because I am personally revulsed by violence against women, but because as a democracy activist I am offended by gag orders which repress free speech, freedom of the press, and which distort the judicial process.
Normally, I would report this story much differently than I’ve been forced to do here. I would display all the evidence, quote from the transcripts, name all the participants. But part of the noxiousness of judicial secrecy is that it gags the mouths of the victim, her attorneys and the entire Israeli media system. As a result, I have to resort to some of the techniques I’ve used below.
I cannot name the victim, that is why I use the initial P. Though this is by her choice (and under Israeli law the media may not name a rape victim unless she gives permission before a court), the reason she cannot allow herself to be named is because of the stigma attached to the act within Israeli society. She would be forever branded and stigmatized as Yoav Even’s conquest. So no one in Israel can name either the victim or the alleged rapist in this case, which in essence muzzles the victim and all Israeli women. This is why I’ve featured the image of the wounded woman with mouth stitched shut below. This represents not only the victim in this case, but all who have suffered from sexual violence and felt they could not speak about it. The brutality against the victim in this case is but the first crime. The second is the way she’s been treated by the police and Israeli legal system, which have prevented her from telling all Israel about what happened. Thus, she has been twice victimized.
The NY Times today carries a story about a case in England of a soccer player who carried on an affair with a beauty queen. Wishing to avoid having the affair and his name exposed publicly, he obtained a super-injunction prohibiting the English press from publishing his name, anything about the affair, or even the fact that there was an injunction. This is common practice in Israel as well. But unlike, Israel, Twitter users in England showed their disdain for the law by posting 75,000 tweets which named him. This quickly turned the soccer player and the super-injunction law into a laughingstock.
Israel unfortunately, is a country in which citizens are still intimidated by gag orders and threats of prosecution for breaking them. If a fraction of those who violated the British Twitter users broke the Israeli gag on Twitter or Facebook, the judge might’ve been persuaded to withdraw it. But the prevalence of government secrecy and a national security state have made Israelis afraid of taking such a chance and putting themselves in jeopardy.
What is interesting about the English case is that the soccer player has threatened to sue Twitter in English courts to expose the identity of those who have exposed his identity. Presumably, some of those who’ve exposed his name could then be sued for violating the injunction. Similarly, some enterprising Israeli protected by a gag order might also sue social networking sites which have exposed his name. That’s another reason why Israelis are so frightened of the power of the gag. And it’s another reason why it’s important for me to do so. Because they can’t–or at least are frightened of the consequences if they do.
Now a word about the dropping of rape charges against Even. The victim’s statement makes abundantly clear why neither the police nor prosecution wished to prosecute this case. Personally, I don’t at all believe it was for “lack of sufficient evidence.” I believe the real reason has to do with the fact that the victim is a woman with unconventional views of lots of issues related to gender sexuality. By this, I’m not referring to aberrant views or views that in any country would make her terribly unusual. But views that in Israel mark this woman as independent or free-thinking. So the thinking of the average Israeli male is that such a woman has only herself to blame if she gets into the kind of scrape she did with Yoav Even.
In addition, P., in cultivating the relationship with Even, did many things that if you were a father, as I am, you would not want your daughter to do. But again, the things she did, while perhaps “forward” by conventional standards should in no way mark her as someone whose victimhood can in any way be justified.
P. met Even through Facebook. They cultivated a three-week long relationship online in which they shared many details of their lives, some quite intimate. Though the victim believed that the nature of their exchange wasn’t erotic, they did at some junctures talk about sex and their sexual histories. Even revealed that he’d had serial relationships with married women “in the past.” The complainant revealed the types of sexual activities she’d enjoyed in the past. But these discussions were in a broader context of conversation the two had that contained numerous non-sexual aspects.
Even essentially revealed to her that he was in a “passive mode.” In other words, that he wasn’t seeking a relationship. In retrospect, what he was telling her that he was a one-night stand kinda guy. She revealed to him that while she enjoyed being the more assertive partner, she wished for him to take the initiative. It seems there was already a confusing tug of war going on between them about gender roles.
Even continually invited her to meet him and she rejected all of his overtures. But at one point, three weeks into their online relationship, he promised P. that if she came to visit him she would be safe and that he would not propose sex. If it were you or me we might’ve fled at this point. But this is a woman who works in a highly specialized medical field which most eligible men do not consider especially attractive. So she admits that she is a lonely person, someone seeking companionship. It seems very likely that she may be a person either sexually inexperienced, naive, or socially awkward without the same antennae that another woman might have. At any rate, instead of fleeing danger, this pinky-swear from Even made her feel comfortable trusting him.
She agreed to meet him at his home and was in hindsight reckless in doing so. But how many thousands of women have met men at their homes and not had the sort of catastrophic encounter she did? Do we wish to claim that any woman who does what she did can never claim she was raped because she was too forward, too aggressive? To me, the notion is not only preposterous, but obnoxious and sexist. But of course, in your heart of hearts you know this is precisely the reason (or one of them) why the prosecutor and police dropped the charges against Even.
From the first moment she walked into his apartment, she smelled marijuana in the air. I know, you’re saying like the audience in a horror movie when the heroine enters the haunted house: “Get the hell out of there.” But again, you must suspend judgment because a woman who is naïve or lacks judgment may still be raped. After they exchanged pleasantries he went to the bar and brought out two glasses and a bottle of whiskey which they shared. He then broke out the dope and rolled himself a smoke, which he offered her and she refused.
He then produced a bottle of vodka and offered her another glass which she accepted. At this point, he mysteriously told P. that it’s not advisable to mix drinks. When she asked why, he replied that he would tell her later. In hindsight, she clearly believed that he was setting up an explanation that would lull her into believing that the date rape drug she believed he’d added to her drink was not what caused her later stupor, which facilitated the rape.
As an aside, this Israeli TV news report about use of the date rape drug GBL/GBH indicates its widespread use in the Tel Aviv club scene which Even likely frequented. The report indicates the drug is easily imported into Israel via internet sales and widely found in the local clubs. This story includes interviews with men who have used the drug to overpower women and force sex on them. Had Even wanted to do this to his victim it would’ve been easy to do so.
At this point, P. began to feel the full effects of the combination of the liquor and any other substance she may’ve imbibed. Telling him she felt “high,” he made his first sexual advance, kissing her, which she reciprocated. They then moved to his couch where the cooing continued. But at this point, the victim began to feel physically strange and dissociated from the actions happening around her. He unbuttoned her blouse and undid her bra as her body felt heavier and her mind out of focus. As he laid her body down, it felt to her like a lifeless rag doll. Her head spun, her eyes felt heavy and her vision became unfocused. She felt like a zombie.
In the meantime, Even had disrobed P. and moved his head down to her crotch to perform oral sex, which she refused. She attempted to pull his head away and said “no” several times, which he ignored. He began performing the act and licked her, which she objected to. But the more she resisted the more insistent he became until he finished. At that point her body had shut down and she felt in a near paralytic state. Her body felt limp and she could barely utter a word. But the entire time she was mentally conscious of what was happened despite the other disabilities.
Then he penetrated her (vaginally). At that point, she noticed he had taken up his cellphone and was typing keystrokes. She was concerned that he might be photographing her and asked what he was doing. As he was thrusting and looking at the screen he replied that he wasn’t photographing her, but had received a text message. Later he lay the phone back on his nightstand and continued the sexual act.
She resisted fiercely and continuously shrieked “No, No,” in both Hebrew and English, slapping him and using her arms to push him away. He was shoving himself into her brutally and mercilessly. The more she said no, the more aggressive he became. He pinned her arms behind her back as his body weighed down on her. She emitted long, cries of pain which he ignored. The awkwardness of the position into which he had forced her caused greater discomfort and suffering. She tried kicking with her legs and tried unsuccessfully to move her arms.
Then she noticed that he spat on his hands and rubbed her anal area and then sodomized. She groaned and cried out “No, No” again, with the pain of it. He ignored her and carried out as if possessed. At that point, she was able to release her arms, but he grabbed them again and positioned them behind her back, leaning on her with his whole weight so she could not free herself. He noticed at some point her pain and told her dismissively if it hurt she would eventually get accustomed to it (sounding like a man who has some previous experience in the matter). He also took his arm and wrapped it around her neck and pulled it upward causing near asphyxiation and blackout. At that point, she realized that he could kill her.
After he had climaxed, P. could not get up. So he took her to the shower and helped her shower since she could not even stand on her own feet. She was nearly incapacitated while he talked to her as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He brought her a towel and then she laid down in his bed and fell asleep due to the lingering effects of alcohol or whatever else she’d ingested.
When she awoke she could barely move, but eventually walked to the bathroom where she evacuated the sperm from her anus. When she wiped herself, she saw blood on the toilet paper, which caused her to feel angry and frightened about the damage he had inflicted on her. She walked over to him as he was doing the dishes in his sink and he ignored her. Though she was still incapacitated, she was upset that he paid no attention to her condition. So she struck his hand and he mistakenly assumed she wanted to have another bout of sex.
She told him she was bleeding but he didn’t respond and showed no concern for her condition. He approached her tried to distract her by talking about his aquarium and fish. He took out worms and asked her to feed them because he knew she enjoyed animals. Then he took her back into the bedroom and performed a second sex act to which she then had no physical ability to resist. He shoved his penis into her mouth as deep as it would go causing her to have a gag reflex and feel like throwing up. Then he penetrated her anally (again). She asked why he was obsessed with anal intercourse. Then he inserted his penis into her vagina from behind, but ‘graciously’ chose to use a condom so as not to make her pregnant (smart boy).
But he couldn’t come, so he turned her around and put his penis into her mouth again till he was about to come, but she managed to turn away and he did not complete the sex act.
She felt physically unable to move and went to sleep. But it was impossible, and after a time she tried woozily to get to the bathroom, where again his ejaculate and other fluids came out of her anus. With great difficulty, she found her clothing, dressed and made her way shakily to her car and drove home. Her driving was erratic and she felt she could’ve caused an accident since she was fully in control of her body. She made wrong turns, had to ask for directions from people along the way, but finally made it to her home.
The next day, P. wrote him a Facebook message in which she told him that he had done a terrible thing to her. He replied that he didn’t feel the same way, didn’t understand her reaction, nor notice she was intoxicated. He flat-out denied that he took advantage of her or treated her as a sex object. He rejected any attempt to impute any blame or guilt to himself for what happened.
He later called her from a phone number that blocked caller ID and reaffirmed that he’d had no idea she was physically unwell and attempted to remind her of points during the intercourse in which she seemed to consent. Many of the scenarios he attempted to persuade her of had not indeed happened. He told her things that he alleged she had said, which she had not said to him. She knew this because he used words and phrases he claimed she’d said, which she knew she would never say.
Naively, at that point, P. decided to give him the benefit of the doubt since she believed that a TV news reporter for one of Israel’s leading channels could not behave in the reprehensible way he did. She thought perhaps she had misunderstood, a reaction common among rape victims. She remembered all the warm conversations they’d had, the personal exchanges they’d had in which he’d showed himself to be kind and generous. She preferred to believe what had happened to her was an aberration. Perhaps, if she tried a little harder she would see the man who charmed her return–that he could reform himself and be the man she imagined.
She was ashamed and preferred not to think about what had happened. The idea that such an outrageous thing had been done to her was terribly difficult to accept. She preferred even to say that what she thought happened couldn’t really have happened to her since she was a strong woman, a capable woman. Such things don’t happen to women like this, she believed.
By the end of that conversation with Even, he’d manipulated her into admitting that perhaps he hadn’t been the aggressor and that perhaps her version of the evening was skewed somehow. She even told him that she wasn’t faulting him for his behavior. Despite this, she did remind him, albeit in a subtle way, of the physically violent things he’d done to her. In other words, she didn’t completely withdraw her story. But she was certainly accommodating to her rapist. His response was to minimize the violence and aggression of her account as much as possible whenever she brought up a damning point.
She later found out that he’d recorded this conversation (without her permission of course). And then came to understand that the entire conversation with him was manipulated so that it could be used by him should she later change her mind and make a police complaint. This sounds to me like a man who’s been through such a mine field before with other women.
In the meantime, the woman had noticed the lacerations and bruising on her body and photographed it (see above).
Dena Shunra, who’s helped me research this story and translate materials, and who grew up in Israel, says the following about Even’s frame of mind. In reading this transcript:
It seems clear that based on P.’s testimony, Even thought they were having consensual sex. In other words, he thought she was a participant, not a passive object being acted upon. That’s the only explanation for the fact that he tried to perform oral sex on her and later asked whether she had an orgasm. It is as though Even’s theory was that once he obtained any consent, he had full consent – once she walked through his door, or drank his booze, he felt that he could do anything at all to her.
This too would’ve made prosecution and conviction of Even difficult. In his twisted view of gender relations, any woman who allowed him to kiss her was also fair game for whatever sex act he wished. Though he may’ve believed he had consent, in what world is he living? In a world in which men can do pretty much whatever they wish with any woman who enters their lair? This sounds more like a whorehouse or war on the female sex than a decent civilized society in which men and women show basic respect for each other.
During a later Facebook conversation, in which she sought reassurance from him and assistance in getting over the trauma of what had happened, she witnessed him turn into the angry person she’d seen that night. He became accusatory, said she wanted to ruin his career and that he was afraid of her. When she asked him whether he had any concern for her feelings he replied that she didn’t interest him at all. She asked whether they could meet to have a sort of sulha in which they could make amends to each other. He refused and said that everything was in her mind and that she was fabricating the need to repair anything.
Another excuse he used for not meeting her was his fear that if they did meet that they would have sex again (that she would want to do so). She protested that she didn’t want to have sex with him and she wasn’t the kind of woman who would try to emasculate him or harm his career. The sad irony is that she wanted this meeting as much to get over the harm that had come to her as to correct any misimpression he might have of her.
He continued by trying to plant in her mind a script of what had happened to her that night which she knew to be false. When she refused to go along, he insulted and berated her turning himself into the victim and her into the abuser. At that point, she began to understand (finally) the level of manipulation he was employing (and likely that he’d used it before on others). She accused him directly of “playing her.” To which he replied that she was psychologically unstable. She ended the last conversation by saying God would have to forgive him for what he’d done to her.
Colleagues at work suspected something was wrong and that she was exhibiting physical symptoms like being unable to walk normally. She gradually began to share her feelings with close family. But she hadn’t to this point thought about making a complaint to the police. Gradually, a co-worker convinced her to share the story with him and he helped her understand that Even’s behavior was not normal and that she was not at fault for any of it. At that point, they went to her senior supervisor, told him the story and asked his advice. He called a police officer and thus began the process of filing charges against Even.
During later police questioning of Even’s lawyer, he admitted that the very day P. visited the police, the information was leaked to the accused, possibly through a police informant who passed it to a contact at Channel 2. This would’ve allowed Even to dispose of the liquor and drugs that he used the night of the assault, coach witnesses who might be contacted by the police and generally prepare for what was to come.
After her last contact with Even (but before going to the police), two Channel 2 news reporters contacted her via Facebook and attempted to insinuate themselves into her life. First, Ohad Itach, a news producer, invited her for a cup of coffee. She politely declined, to which Itach responded in an understanding way and wished her “strength in the difficulty she was facing.” She replied, (far too politely in my opinion) knowing he was a colleague of Even’s, that if he was sincere in those wishes she was pleased to hear it.
Several days later, one of Israel’s most well-known newscasters, Roni Daniel, Friended P. on Facebook and offered her his telephone number. When she asked him the reason he replied that he didn’t do so with any ill-intention, but that because he was new to Facebook and didn’t understand fully how the system worked (this despite the fact that he was using Facebook technology to chat with her), that it was more convenient to talk by telephone. But he said that if this bothered her…and left it at that. She declined his invitation.
After she filed her police complaint, Daniel un-Friended her and erased the conversation (of which I have a screenshot as I mentioned above). I have not displayed the Facebook screenshots I possess because they mention the victim’s name repeatedly.
During the time they contacted her, both Itach and Daniel began spreading rumors (reported to my sources) among their press colleagues about the victim, claiming that she had a “thing” for celebrities, stalked them, etc.
Shockingly, an Israeli TV news reporter reported to the police that she had seen in Even’s home a copy of the “book” he had written entitled, How to Fuck as Many Girls as You Can. He literally showed her a chapter of it. And lest this seem incredibly implausible, I have the name of the journalist. Even told her he planned to publish it using a pseudonym and expected it would be a best-seller and earn him a tidy sum. The book is likely one of the things Even had to erase from his computer before the police impounded it.
To our western ears, the very idea of such a book seems so shocking as to be unbelievable. But I’m sorry to say that major Israeli cultural avatars like Aharon Bar, have written similar books. His was called, On Flying Toward the Phoenix, in which he wrote a fictionalized account of his many sexual conquests.
So let me recount some of my own conclusions based on the materials I received. Yoav Even and the Israeli police colluded to bolster his case and protect him from prosecution. The police obstructed justice in leaking word of the charges brought against him. Just as bad, two senior, respected Israeli journalists also appear to have obstructed justice by contacting the victim in order to influence her perception of what had happened to her, in order to discourage her from filing charges, and in order to gather intelligence about what she was planning to do. If true, this is not only a grave violation of law and perversion of justice, it violates every precept of journalistic ethics (a concept which has not taken very deep root in Israel, alas). If this were America, they would be suspended and investigated and in danger of losing their jobs. In Israel, due to the gag, they are comfortably protected.
In these contacts, one can see how the good ol’ boy network works Israel-style. Some commenters here earlier attempted to argue that Even had no proteksia and was a nobody just like the victim. But we can see that when two of the most powerful figures in Israeli news go to bat for Even and attempt to pervert justice, that the stakes have changed and the power imbalance becomes much more severe. The fact that no major media outlet appealed the gag to the Israeli Supreme Court, which tend to look askance at such legal maneuvers, further confirms that there was a conspiracy of silence among the media élite on behalf of Even and his Channel 2 employer.
I should add as well that when the victim first went to the police she had no lawyer because none would agree to take her case. Potential attorneys were intimidated by the fact that she was going up against a journalist working for a powerful Israeli media enterprise. Tell me women fare well in the Israeli legal system when it comes to accusation of sexual violence!
Regarding the fate of P.’s complaint, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The police and prosecutor joined hands with the media and dropped the case. Another little mess swept conveniently under the rug. Another Israel male violator protected.
I am not saying that if they had brought charges they would’ve convicted Yoav Even. Of course, there is a possibility he would’ve been found not guilty. I have read some of the material offered by the defense against her (and reported it here) and they would’ve presented a case that she was a sexual aggressor, a monster who seeks to gobble up men, etc. That’s a powerful narrative for many Israeli men, one of whom would’ve been the judge appointed to hear her case. But what I am saying is that the state was derelict in its duty to Israel’s women by not pressing charges regardless of what the outcome might be. Something terrible happened to the victim that night and I believe Even was responsible. It was violent, it was mean, it was brutal. It may be that there were problems with the case as far as the prosecution was concerned. It may be they didn’t want to prosecute a case unless they knew they could win. But there are times you have to take a stand no matter whether you’re going to win or lose. Without the pressure of public scrutiny, the state could more easily walk away from this. And that, in my opinion, was a shandeh.
Finally, men like Even don’t brutalize women once. They do it serially. There are, I believe, other women (think of all those married women he confirmed that he’d had dalliances with) out there. Not just women who had sex with him, but women who he attacked, women perhaps too frightened or intimidated to come forward. If there had been no gag, such women might’ve screwed up their courage and told the police their stories. That’s what happened in the Katsav case. But when most Israeli women don’t know about a predator like this, there is little they can do to tell their stories.
While I am an American blogger whose impact within Israeli society is constrained by language and other factors, Israeli women should know that there is a likely predator out there. I warn Channel 2 that they employ someone who could harm their female staff or even the female subject of a news story. Yoav Even should be supervised in all of his professional engagements so he does not do to another woman what he may’ve done to this one. And Israel women should beware this man. He appears to be incredibly manipulative and charismatic. He knows how to turn on the charm and be persuasive. Know that you fall for his charm at your peril.
Channel 2 seems to have learnt the exact opposite lesson from the one I broached above. Instead of monitoring Even’s behavior and protecting its staff and subjects, it threw a gala Welcome Home party for him which was covered here and in the Israeli gossip columns. Those featured photos of Even’s media friends as if they were walking down the red carpet at a film opening or the Oscars. Did they not have the seychel to understand what their friend had been charged with and the sense perhaps to understand that a celebrity media spectacular might not be the most appropriate way in which to mark the dropping of the charges against him. The gossip story was full of affection for Even even mentioning that there were so many (presumably female devotees) eagerly awaiting his return to the air. He was photographed enjoying drinks with women on staff who seem oblivious to the seriousness of his situation and the charges levelled against him. They’re perfectly willing to treat him as Adonis returning if they wish. But is it seemly for a public media company to be seen to lionize him in such a way?
Certainly one of the most ironic elements of this story is that Yoav Even’s news beat is health reporting. Could you think of any more inappropriate subject for someone like this to cover? Someone who appears to systematically destroy the physical and mental health of women? Put him on the macho beat perhaps covering manly issues, the latest fads of the drug and dating scene. Or maybe the crime beat. But health? Really.