The director general of the Israel Journalists Union, Tuvya Sa'ar, has been arrested on suspicion of having intercourse with a minor and coercing her into providing sexual favors, reported Haaretz newspaper on Wednesday.
Sa'ar, 65, was detained two days ago and remanded in custody Tuesday in the magistrate court in Be'er Sheva.
He was also charged with obstructing an investigation, and using threats to silence the minor.
Sa'ar pleaded not guilty, said the paper.
The charges allege Sa'ar got to know the minor two years ago through an internet chat room, and they began meeting at his home and in hotel rooms in Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva. Although she was 15 years old at the time - a year below the age of consent - Sa'ar is suspected of having had intercourse with the minor and of using his position as a public figure to cajole and coerce her.
In one instance, Haaretz said, he is suspected of promising the girl an appearance on the TV channel for children because of his connections there.
The investigation was opened on August 6 after the girl confided in a friend about her relationship with Sa'ar. When her parents also heard about the affair, they took her to the police.
Initial reports of the arrest were broadcast on the radio and appeared on the internet, but police requested a total news blackout on the subject until the investigation was completed, the paper added.
After learning about the investigation, Sa'ar is suspected of trying to coerce the girl and her family into withdrawing the charges. He is said to have threatened to reveal intimate and embarrassing information about her family - which he learned from the girl - if they failed to do so.
Sa'ar was previously the director of Israel TV. At this stage he will continue as head of the journalists union, a position he has held for the past year and a half, Haaretz added – Albawaba.com
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