HOUSTON – A rabbi who was reported missing on Monday was actually behind bars when he couldn’t be found, records show.
Ranon Teller, 53, was arrested and charged with unlawful restraint.
The court record indicates Teller is accused of using force to restrain a 40-year-old woman without the person’s consent.
A spokesperson for Houston Police says they were called to the 5400 block of Westheimer Sunday night after a woman said Teller came up behind her, grabbed her around the waist and tried to run off with her. The woman told police she was able to fight him off and ran to a nearby driver for help.
Teller was gone from the scene by the time officers arrived, but later that evening found him when they were called to the Embassy Suites on Sage Road near the Galleria. The hotel reported Teller was harassing guests, making them uncomfortable and refusing to leave.
Investigators were able to connect Teller to the earlier complaint and arrested him.
Teller was booked into jail as “name unknown” because he would not give his name to officers.
HPD was able to identify him when they saw the missing person flyers being posted Monday by his congregants.
He has been with Brith Shalom since 2005, according to the Brith Shalom website.
Brith Shalom’s president Jonah Paransky released a statement Wednesday that read, in part: “One of the most fundamental tenets of Jewish and Talmudic law is that the accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence. Additionally, our scriptures implore that justice must be pursued, wherever it may lead. With this in mind, I believe the best way we as a Brith Shalom community can show our support and love for our beloved rabbi and his family is to allow the legal process to play out without further involvement from us. As previously communicated, Rabbi Teller remains on leave from Brith Shalom. The Board of Trustees will be monitoring the situation and will update you as circumstances warrant. In the meantime, keep the rabbi and his family in your prayers as they navigate through these difficult times. Please continue to respect the privacy of Rabbi Teller and his family by not reaching out to them directly at this time.”
Teller, who is out on bond, is barred from having contact with the person he is accused of restraining, must appear in court in person and must not use any controlled substance or dangerous drug unless issued by a doctor.
Dane Schiller, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told KPRC 2 the case against Teller is still under investigation.
“When prosecutors accept charges from police, it is often the beginning of a process, not the end. Charges can be adjusted as we learn all we can about this incident,” Schiller said.
He is due in Harris County Criminal Court on Monday.