NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A rabbi facing child sex-abuse charges in Brooklyn is awaiting extradition back to New York after being arrested in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Menachem Tewel, 30, who also goes by Mendel Tevel, was arrested Tuesday at the JEM Center, a Jewish youth community center on Santa Monica Boulevard, police said.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office put out a warrant for his arrest for several counts of criminal sex acts with minors.
Police said he abused four boys between the ages of 6 and 14. A watchdog group that focuses on child abuse prevention said the alleged attacks happened in Brooklyn sometime between 1995 and 2004.
All of the alleged victims are now adults. Tewel himself would only have been about 12 in 1995.
“Mendel Tevel has been accused by many people of being a molester,” said Ilanit Gluckosky with Jewish Community Watch.
Dana Cole, a lawyer for the community center in California where Tewel was arrested, said the alleged crimes happened only in New York.
“No child, no parent, no one has alleged anything against the JEM Center,” Cole said. “This involves activities that occurred several years ago in New York City.”
The head of the community center said Tewel will be exonerated.
“God will help that it will show that it’s all false and will clear up and people will see while we continue our good job for the community,” said Director Hertzel Illulian.
However, one of Tewel’s alleged victims, who asked to be identified only as ‘Danny’, said that the allegations are far from false.
“I hope they throw him in a dark hole and never let him out,” he said, “I didn’t realize for a counselor to be doing that to one of the 15-year-old students that that’s not normal.”
Tewel was 23-year-old Danny’s counselor and weight trainer at a school in upstate New York eight years ago, that is when Danny alleges that the abuse took place, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Danny described Tewel as congenial, trusted, and well liked. He fears that there could be more alleged victims out there who are reluctant to come forward.
“It makes me feel bad that I didn’t come forward to the authorities myself. But it just makes me hate him a whole lot more,” Danny said.
For Danny, Tewel’s arrest offered a small sense of relief.
“I’m in a sense relieved, because whether he goes to prison or not, he will never be able to work for a school or get near children again,” Danny said.
If asked, Danny said that he would testify against Tewel in court.
It was unclear Wednesday night when Tewel left New York or how long he’s been in California. There was no word on when he will be back in New York City to face charges.
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