A rabbi wanted for allegedly abusing several boys in New York has been arrested in Beverly Hills, police said.
Menachem Tavel, 30, worked in his native New York with suicide prevention in children and teens, and taught religion to adults. For the past year, he has divided his time between Brooklyn and the Jem Center in Beverly Hills.
The center’s director is Tavel’s father-in-law, who says his relative is “innocent and a fantastic person.”
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Allegations that Tavel abused boys date back to the 1990s. They were revealed for the first time on Aug. 6 when a website called Jewish Community Watch warned parents about claims by more than one young boy who had encountered the rabbi in Brooklyn.
“He was checked here in the U.S. at the time, and had a clean record,” said Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, the suspect’s father-in-law.
The Jem Center’s attorney told NBC4 that Beverly Hills police – the same agency that arrested Tavel – cleared the rabbi to work in LA, but police deny that claim.
“That’s not accurate at all,” said Lt. Lincoln Hoshino, with the Beverly Hills Police Department.
"We don't conduct personnel investigations or clearance checks on anybody's employees, other than our own," Hoshino added.
Tavel is expected to be extradited to Brooklyn this week to face the charges. Calls for comment to the New York Police Department have not been returned.
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