Married rabbi, 30, arrested at Jewish youth center in Beverly Hills for 'sexually molesting and spanking naked boys' in New York

Mail, UK/October 30, 2013

A rabbi accused of sexually abusing boys in New York was arrested Tuesday afternoon at a Jewish community center in Beverly Hills, California.

Menachem Tewel, 30, also known as Mendel Tevel, was handcuffed and led away from the JEM Community Center at 9930 S. Santa Monica Boulevard, at around 1.30pm, where he was working a youth worker.

He is suspected of abusing four boys between 1995 and 2004 on two counts of criminal sexual acts and one count of sexual abuse.

Tevel is accused of carrying out two of the acts in Brooklyn and two at Machane Menachem, a since-closed Chabad-Lubavitch sleepaway camp in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, where Tevel worked in 2001.

He also worked as a mentor at the now-closed Shterns Yeshiva in upstate New York, according to the Jewish Journal.

All of the boys are now adults, including one who says Tevel performed oral sex on him several times in his car when Tevel was 22 and the alleged victim was 14, according to the New York Post.

The rabbi moved to Los Angeles and had recently been working at the JEM Center, a Jewish youth community center in Beverly Hills.

The JEM Center’s director, Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, is Tevel’s father-in-law. Illulian’s daughter, Bracha, married Tevel in 2012, according to the Journal.

‘No child, no parent, no one has alleged anything against the JEM Center,’ Dana Cole, an attorney for the JEM Center, told reporters in Los Angeles.

‘This involves activities that occurred several years ago in New York City.’

Jewish Community Watch, an organization that focuses on child abuse prevention, said it alerted local rabbis about the allegations against Tevel in August.

The Journal had reported that 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.

One alleged victim, now 25, told the Journal that Tevel’s abuse might have begun at a very early age.

The 25-year-old, who did not wish to be named, said when he was 6 or 7 years old, his family lived near Tevel’s family in Brooklyn.

He said Tevel, then 11 or 12 years old, would go to the basement of his home multiple times per week with him, lock the door, tie him down, remove some or all of his clothing, and whip him.

‘I had just a T-shirt on and socks,’ he told the Journal. ‘Of course, pants and any sort of underwear, that was gone.’

The alleged victim, who was raised an observant Jew, said he has since attended therapy for years after that.

Another man, 21, said he was about 9 years old and Tevel was about 18, when he was a first-time camper at Machane Menachem.

One day, he alleged, Tevel brought him into a sports equipment room.

As another person watched the door, the 21-year-old man claimed, Tevel bent him over his lap and smacked him on the rear with a pingpong paddle.

He then pulled down his bathing suit and continued smacking him.

Tevel will be extradited to New York, according to police.

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