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Ex-Brooklyn rabbi arrested on sex abuse charges in California

Stacey Sager reports from Crown Heights.
October 30, 2013 3:26:49 PM PDT
A rabbi who used to work in Brooklyn was arrested in California Tuesday over allegations of child sex abuse in our area.

Rabbi Menachem Tewel is expected to return to Brooklyn as early as Wednesday to face a series of criminal sex act charges.

He was taken into custody by police at the JEM Center, a Jewish youth community center on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, where he now works.

The Kings County District Attorney's Office confirmed that an arrest warrant was issued earlier this month for 30-year-old Rabbi Tewel.

"Mendel Tevel has been accused by many people of being a child molester," said Ilanit Gluckosky, of Jewish Community Watch, an organization that focuses on child abuse prevention. "It was brought to the attention of Jewish Community Watch."

According to the organization, the charges against Tewel go back to the mid-1990s and as recently as 2004.

The watchdog group reported on four men who accused Tewel of molesting them when they were boys in Brooklyn.

"No child, no parent, no one has alleged anything against the JEM Center," center attorney Dana Cole said. "This involves activities that occurred several years ago in New York City."

Jewish Community Watch says it alerted local rabbis about the allegations against Tewel in August.

"Law enforcement told them there was no warrant, there was no criminal investigation, so JEM Center attempted to do due diligence," Cole said. "They were assured by law enforcement that nothing was going on, and then they were surprised today at this arrest."

The JEM Center's director, Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, is Tewel's father-in-law.

"God will help that it will show that it's all false and will clear up, and people will see while we will still continue our good job for the community," Illulian said.

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