Rabbi's actions brushed under rug, say community members


The 30-year-old rabbi was arrested on Tuesday on charges of sexual criminal acts. In the grand jury indictment out of Brooklyn, Tevel is accused of performing an oral sex act on one victim several times in the past. The incidents occurred about eight years ago. Tevel was 22 at the time and the victim was 14.

Authorities say the victim was abused several times in Tevel's car starting in 2005. The victim was not sure if he should come forward to report the abuse, since so much time had passed. He finally alerted police on Sept. 12.

Though only one victim is mentioned in the indictment, authorities are investigating other possible allegations as well.

"He was arrested for child molestation allegations, on child endangerment allegations. Everything will, I'm sure, be publicized as soon as the official charges are made in New York," said Ilanit Gluckowsky with the Jewish Community Watch, an organization that focuses on child abuse prevention.

Some members of the orthodox Jewish community, who did not want to be shown on camera, say they have known about the allegations for some time and are glad something is finally being done.

"People know about it. It's not a big secret. Everybody is doing their best to brush it under the rug and pretend it doesn't happen in our community," said one anonymous member of the community.

Community members say Tevel has worked at JEM, a Jewish youth center in Beverly Hills, for the past two years. His father-in-law, who is the director at the center, spoke with Eyewitness News after his son-in-law's arrest.

"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," said Rabbi Hertzel Illulian.

Some community members believe Illulian knew about the allegations and did nothing.

"He has been notified of this a number of times. There have been community meetings about this. Rabbi Illulian has just basically taken an arrogant hard line, you know, 'I'm going to do what I want,'" said an anonymous member of the community.

However, the JEM center denies this.

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

Some members at the JEM center do not believe Tevel could be a child sexual predator.

"One-hundred percent false allegations. Why? Because I know this family. Why? Because I know this center. Why? Because I know Mendel Tevel," said JEM center member Sara Golian.

Tevel's extradition hearing is expected to take place on Thursday.

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