Today Mendel Tevel was sentenced to one year in prison for child sexual abuse. This is a man who committed evil acts, a man who victimized the innocent, and a man who destroyed lives. He manipulated his community and in-laws to become accomplices in his crimes by harboring and defending him.
This man abused his authority as a Rabbi, using his power to gain access to victims.
The brave young man that came forward today is a hero. He came forward about the heinous abuse Tevel inflicted on him, not for himself, but for others. When this young man found out that Tevel was working with children at the JEM Center in Los Angeles, he made the difficult decision to speak up and protect our community’s children.
For that selfless decision, he endured intimidation, blackmail threats and harassment at the hands of Tevel’s misguided supporters. Today, those people were silenced, and finally, the victim was heard. When Tevel’s lawyer attempted to comment on the Victim Impact Statement, he was silenced by the judge. When his lawyer tried to present letters of support on Tevel’s behalf, he was told “We are past that.”
To this young man, JCW and survivors everywhere thank you from the bottom of our hearts for standing up for yourself and thousands of others. You will never know how many children you saved, and how many victims you inspired with your unfaltering bravery.
Today we shall not rejoice at our enemies downfall. Today we shall not rejoice that a fellow Jew goes to jail. Today we shall mourn for the many children that have been victims of sexual abuse in our own community. But in that mourning, there is victory, there is hope…
Today a clear message was sent to abusers – “If you touch a child, you will be held accountable.”
Today that young man stood up in the court room and said “When I walk out of this room today, I am NO longer a victim. I am a survivor.”
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