Former JCC Chicago assistant camp director charged in Cobb County child molestation case

Cobb Superior Court with Cobb County Courier logo

By Rebecca Gaunt

Ari Yonatan Wartell, 33,the former assistant director of JCC Chicago’s Camp Chi in Wisconsin, has been charged with child molestation and aggravated sodomy in Cobb County.

Wartell was taken into custody by the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on June 28. He was released July 26 on a $60,000 bond.

According to the warrant, the incident occurred sometime between Sep. 29 and Oct. 1, 2016. The victim was 10 years old at the time.

According to a family member who requested their name be withheld, the victim is a relative. Wartell was visiting the family’s Marietta home at the time of the alleged incident. The victim began to display emotional and behavioral issues as a result, but did not disclose what happened until earlier this year.

According to his now deleted LinkedIn page, Wartell became a program manager for Camp Chi, a Jewish overnight summer camp in Lake Delton, Wisconsin in 2013. From 2014–2018, he was the operations coordinator for residential camping, the operations manager from 2018–2020, and was promoted to assistant director in January 2020.

His now-deleted biography from the Camp Chi website stated that he started working there in 2012 as a Village Leader.

“Ari Wartell is no longer employed with JCC Chicago. While the allegations against Ari have nothing to do with JCC Chicago, we believe his termination to be in the best interests of our agency as a whole. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement,” Johanna G. Fine, chief human resources officer of JCC Chicago, wrote in an email to the Courier.

The Cobb County Police Department is investigating. The district attorney’s office has not yet responded to questions from the Courier.

According to a report in Evanston Now, Wartell had a previous arrest in February 2019 for “battery and physical contact with an 8-year-old child of an insulting or provoking nature.”

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.