Israeli Pop Star at Center of Sex Scandal

Eyal Golan P

Popular recording artist -- and "Rising Star" judge -- Eyal Golan was questioned by police about an alleged sexual encounter with a minor.

Popular Israeli recording artist Eyal Golan was detained for questioning at Tel Aviv Police Headquarters Wednesday, surrounding allegations he engaged in unlawful sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old minor. Reportedly, Golan was at the center of a ring that included his father, manager and other associates who scouted teenage female fans during concerts for post-show hotel room excursions, which included sex and drug consumption.

Word of the scandal already broke in Israel almost a week ago, but came with a gag order on Golan’s name. However, his identity was known to most Israelis almost instantly, whether through a simple process of elimination or online word of mouth. Speculation regarding charges became more intense at the beginning of the week, when Golan appeared as scheduled on Channel 2’s Keshet Broadcasting’s Rising Star talent competition show, on which he serves as a judge. The Sunday show opened with host Assi Azar saying that after thorough legal deliberations, the show would go on as planned. He did not acknowledge exact details of what was then only referred to as “leaks and rumors.”

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According to Israel’s Channel 2 News, Golan stated in his investigation this morning that he had no knowledge of the girl in question’s real age, admitting he had multiple sexual partners in those reported incidents. While Golan's father remains in custody, the star's attorneys managed to have him released to home arrest. A gag order for two other well-known singers involved in the scandal is still on, with their alleged names also circulating locally via social media.

Following this morning’s official investigation upon lift of the gag order, Keshet released a statement that it has suspended Golan’s participation in its flagship show effective immediately, while also announcing it is halting production on Golan's own reality singing competition show, Eyal Golan Is Calling You, which aired for three seasons on the franchiser’s Music 24 cable channel. No word yet on how his absence will be dealt with on Rising Star, currently more than halfway through its inaugural season, which has been a tremendous success for Keshet in recent weeks. The format, which already has been acquired for a number of big European markets, was recently acquired by ABC for a summer 2014 U.S. launch.

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Eyal Golan, 42, is considered one of the biggest names in Israel. He is the leading Mizrahi-pop genre artist, with 15 studio albums to date, and is perhaps the most sought-after performer in the country. Golan was married to former Miss Israel Ilanit Levy, and the two have a son and a daughter. During the past several days, Golan chose to take to his official Facebook page, before his name was officially made known, where he claimed he is the victim of vicious slander.

Shortly before news of the sex scandal broke, Golan was already in the middle of a legal battle -- along with his senior managers, he was indicted for tax evasion totaling approximately $705,000. Last month a local nonprofit organization, The Movement for Quality Government, demanded his exclusion from Rising Star, along with fellow Mizrahi singer Moshe Peretz, who is part of The X Factor Israel judging panel and faces similar accusations.