Updated 7:45 p.m.
Twelve women have accused David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of inappropriate behavior, including sexual assault, the Times of Israel reported Wednesday.
The article came days after New York state senate candidate Julia Salazar stated that she had been sexually assaulted by Keyes when she was a college student in 2013. One other woman told the Times of Israel that Keyes had been “physically aggressive” towards her in a way that she now considers to be sexual assault.
“All of the accusations are deeply misleading and many of them are categorically false,” Keyes said in a statement on Wednesday.
Salazar had accused Keyes of the assault on her Facebook page in 2016 but deleted it quickly thereafter. She revealed her identity after the conservative website The Daily Caller was preparing an article about her accusation. Keyes said then that the accusation was false and “made by someone who has proven to be repeatedly dishonest about her own life.” Salazar has been accused of lying about multiple aspects of her identity during her campaign, which she denies.
But shortly after the Daily Caller article came out, Wall Street Journal reporter Shayndi Raice tweeted that she believed Salazar because she had also had a “terrible encounter” with him, called him a “predator” and said that his inappropriate behavior towards women was an “open secret.” The Times of Israel report stated that Keyes’ reputation was “so well-known he was asked to stay away from certain offices that he used to frequent in New York.”
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Times of Israel that after she had gone to his apartment in 2012, he “cornered” her and “kept trying to kiss me and touch me and take off my clothes…even after I said no.” She said she had to use “physical force” to escape.
Former co-workers of Keyes at the not-for-profit he ran before moving to Israel, Advancing Human Rights, said that he made women uncomfortable in their office: making inappropriate comments, showing racy videos and staring at women’s chests. They also said that they had an unofficial policy not to leave Keyes alone with female interns.
Israel’s Channel 10 reported after the publication of the Times of Israel article that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank where he had appeared on panel discussions, was forced to intervene after two female employees complained in 2013 that Keyes had harassed them.
“FDD takes all allegations of inappropriate behavior, either by our employees or our guests, extremely seriously,” the organization said in a statement to Tablet. “Over the years, management has put in place strict policies and best practices that reflect zero tolerance for harassment or any form of inappropriate behavior.”
Keyes moved to Israel to take up the job in Netanyahu’s office in 2016.