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Jewish Journal

Mendel Tevel in Los Angeles jail awaiting extradition

by Jared Sichel

October 30, 2013 | 4:51 pm

Mendel Tevel is accused of abuse. Photo courtesy of Jewish Community Watch

Mendel Tevel is accused of abuse. Photo courtesy of Jewish Community Watch

Menachem Mendel Tewel, who goes by the name Mendel Tevel, remains in a Los Angeles jail awaiting extradition to Brooklyn. The rabbi and youth worker arrested Tuesday afternoon at the JEM Center in Beverly Hills is expected to be charged in New York with three counts of sexual abuse, according to officials in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and the New York Police Department.

Although Tevel’s indictment is sealed, Lt. Lincoln Hoshino, a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department, told the Journal that the arrest warrant his department received from New York charges Tevel with three counts of criminal sexual acts in the first degree, five counts of criminal sexual acts in the third degree and three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree.

Tevel, 30, is currently being held without bail at Los Angeles County’s inmate reception center in downtown L.A.. He is scheduled for an extradition hearing as early as the morning of Thursday, Oct. 31, during which he can either fight the Brooklyn DA’s extradition request, or waive opposition to it, giving New York law enforcement officials 30 days to transport him to Brooklyn to be arraigned.

In an article in the Journal in August, four men said they had been victims of Tevel when they were minors (ranging from ages 6 to 14 at the time of the alleged abuse). They claimed Tevel performed acts that included spanking on bare skin, to sexually suggestive rubbing. The instances described by those who spoke with the Journal took place as early as around 1995 and as recently as around 2004.

On Wednesday, the Journal contacted one of Tevel’s alleged male victims, who in August, had recounted to an audience in L.A. that in around 2004, when he was 14, Tevel  inappropriately spanked, rubbed, and massaged him. 

“I would like him to see going away forever,” the Brooklyn resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said by phone.

“There’s a massive sense of relief, however there’s a massive, big sense of stress that just came due to the fact he will be here in New York again,” the alleged victim said.

Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, director and founder of the JEM Center and Tevel’s father-in-law, would not comment when contacted in August, and did not respond to multiple calls this week to his cell phone.

In an interview with KABC TV, Illulian said, “God will help that it will show that it’s all false and will clear up, and people will see while we [JEM] will still continue our good job for the community,”

Dana Cole, the JEM Center’s attorney dismissed questions as to whether the center could face any liability for allowing Tevel to work around youth following the allegations of abuse in New York. “I couldn't possibly think of any potential liability,” Cole said.

“As far as we know there’s been nothing improper whatsoever in terms of people he came in contact with at the JEM center,” Cole said.

Hoshino said BHPD investigators in August had investigated Tevel and concluded there had been “no complaints” of any criminal or inappropriate sexual acts with students at the JEM Center.

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