Shalom Yehudiel, the former proprietor of a restaurant in Teaneck, had sexual assault charges against him dropped by a Bergen County judge the day before he was detained at JFK International Airport in Queens for attempting to flee the country.
According to his attorney, Lee Vartan, the chef, who rose to popularity on the Food Network before being accused of sexual assault charges, was still being held in a Queens jail as of Wednesday morning. The arrest came as a result of an unusual, desperate effort made by the attorney for one of Yehudiel’s alleged victims, who on Tuesday, a day after the sexual assault charges were dropped, delivered a motion to ask the court to allow a citizen’s arrest order and warning that Yehudiel is leaving.
Prosecutors claim that the 40-year-old chef was scheduled to fly alone to Bangkok when he was detained later that day at the airport in New York City.
Vartan asserted that Yehudiel had every right to leave the country once the case sexual assault charges against him was dropped because his arrest was “without merit, as prosecutors already determined.”
Yehudiel was sued by two women last year for sexual assault and harassment.
The chef allegedly assaulted a former server and hostess of The Humble Toast between October 2018 and May 2019, according to the first lawsuit, which was filed in December 2020. According to the lawsuit, during that time, she was 17.
Yehudiel was “subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment” by him as a minor, according to the lawsuit, and he “frequently made vulgar and derogatory comments about his female employees to other employees.”