Accused sex offender Mendel Tevel transferred to custody of Brooklyn D.A.

New York law enforcement assumed custody of accused sex-offender Mendel Tevel late Thursday morning, Nov. 7, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Beverly Hills police arrested Tevel on Oct. 29 after receiving a warrant from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

A spokesman for the Brooklyn D.A. confirmed to the Journal that Tevel was en route Thursday afternoon to New York.

“He should be here sometime tonight and will likely be arraigned sometime tomorrow,” said the spokesman, who asked the Journal to not disclose his name.

Although the information in the indictment will not be made public until the arraignment, Tevel, 30, is expected to be charged with three counts of criminal sexual acts in the first degree, five counts of criminal sexual acts in the third degree and three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. Those are the charges listed in the warrant sent by New York police to Beverly Hills police, according to Lt. Lincoln Hoshino, a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Tevel is believed to have moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 2012, shortly after his marriage to Bracha Illulian, daughter of Rabbi Hertzel Illulian, who is the founder and director of the JEM Center, a Jewish youth center in Beverly Hills where Tevel worked and where he was arrested.

In an article in the Jewish Journal in August, four men alleged that they had been victims of Tevel as minors (ranging from ages 6 to 14 at the time of the alleged abuse).

They each claimed Tevel performed acts on them, which included spanking on bare skin, as well as sexually suggestive rubbing. The instances described by those who spoke with the Journal took place as early as around 1995 and as recently as around 2004.

According to the DA spokesman in Booklyn, Tevel was indicted by a grand jury before the DA’s office pressed charges against him. It is not known how many alleged victims appeared before the grand jury in the case.

Information about Tevel was first made public in October 2012 by Meyer Sewald, founder of Jewish Community Watch,  a sexual abuse watchdog that regularly publicizes information on a Web site about suspected abusers in the Jewish community, mostly in Brooklyn.

Seewald said he posted Tevel on the site’s “Wall of Shame” after multiple alleged victims of Tevel came to him.

Even after some of Tevel’s alleged victims came forward with their stories to JCW in October 2012, and to the Journal in August, Tevel continued to work around children at the JEM Center.

Seewald, who has assisted the Brooklyn DA on some abuse investigations in the Jewish community, told the Journal on Thursday that he believes several of Tevel’s alleged victims plan to come forward.

“We have other brave victims,” Seewald said, “[who] have said that they are going to the DA’s office as well.”

On Thursday, two of the four alleged victims interviewed in August for the article in the Journal said NYPD detectives have not contacted them, but that they would speak with detectives if asked to do so. They requested that the Journal not make their names public

One victim, asked whether he would testify against Tevel in court, said, “If they asked me to, then yes.”

Europeans: Gilad Shalit transfer to Egypt imminent

European diplomatic sources said Thursday that kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit will be transferred to Egypt in the coming hours or coming days.

This information has yet to be confirmed by Israeli officials.

According to the European sources, Shalit’s transfer is the first stage of an agreement between the various Palestinian factions, assisted by Egyptian mediation and done in coordination with the United States and with the support of Syria. Read the full story at

Shoah Foundation Makes USC Its Home

With a mixture of elation and nostalgia, filmmaker Steven Spielberg last week formally turned over his Shoah Foundation, with 52,000 videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses, to the University of Southern California.

“I feel like a proud and wistful parent whose child has graduated high school and is now enrolling at USC,” said Spielberg, who created the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation as a historical continuation of his Oscar-winning movie “Schindler’s List.”

Since 1994, Spielberg’s “child” has grown into the largest digital library in the world, representing testimonies from 56 countries in 32 languages and totaling 117,000 viewing hours.

As such, the archive was sought by numerous other universities and institutions. USC won out on the strength of its pioneering digital technology research, international outreach and scholarly resources, said Douglas Greenberg, president and CEO of the Shoah Foundation.

It didn’t hurt that Spielberg holds an honorary doctorate from USC and serves on its board of trustees, although he noted that “The best thing USC did was not to accept me,” when the boy who became Hollywood’s most successful director applied to its film school.

During a brief ceremony, USC President Steven B. Sample said that “When I visited the memorial at Auschwitz, I could see that it was, appropriately, about those who died. But the Shoah Foundation is about the living and the indomitable human spirit.”

As a living archive, the foundation’s content has been adapted for feature films and documentaries, has reached nearly 2 million students in 30,000 schools, and makes up parts of 70 collections in 18 countries. It’s widely used in teacher workshops and can be accessed on the Internet in the form of interactive exhibits.

Sample and USC Provost C.L. Max Nikias pledged to preserve and expand the mission of the Shoah Foundation “in perpetuity.” Securing the legacy of this documentation was Spielberg’s primary motive for the transfer.

“When the shifting sands of time reach Los Angeles, USC will still be here,” he said.

He said there also will be another advantage to surrendering control.

“I have been the divining rod of the foundation since its inception,” he said. “There is a prejudice against figureheads in Hollywood. The Shoah Foundation, sad to say, will be taken much more seriously by the world now than [with] a filmmaker at its head.” He noted this admission as something “which I find a little hard to say.”

Out of the $150 million raised and spent by the Shoah Foundation since 1994, Spielberg has personally contributed $65 million, so, he said, “I have done my share.”

The ambitions of the Shoah Foundation’s founder and successor institution go well beyond the current accomplishments.

“In 10 years, I see the foundation as the hub of a wheel with many spokes,” Spielberg said.

The “spokes” will represent the visual histories of man’s inhumanity to man, from the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia to the sufferings of Native Americans and black slaves in the United States.

The transfer foundation to USC will become official on Jan. 1, when its name changes to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education and part of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Foundation CEO Greenberg will continue as executive director of the institute, reporting to the college’s dean and the USC provost. He has also been appointed adjunct professor of history.

Plans call for extensive interdisciplinary collaboration with other USC departments, the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and a range of other universities and institutions in the United States and abroad.

Although he will no longer be “the kosher seal of approval” for the massive project he started, Spielberg said he would remain committed to his goal of “teaching tolerance around the world.”

And he made a pledge to newly established institute: “I will continue to be your ambassador.”