In Brooklyn, Hasidic Man Found Guilty of Sexually Abusing Girl


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A New York friend sent me this link.

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Hasidic Man Found Guilty of Sexually Abusing Girl

Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Nechemya Weberman


Published: December 11, 2012

An unlicensed ultra-Orthodox Jewish counselor in Brooklyn’s tight-knit Satmar Hasidic community was convicted on Monday of repeatedly sexually abusing a girl in his care.

The verdict, against Nechemya Weberman, was a significant victory for Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, whose office has been criticized for not acting aggressively enough against sexual abusers in the borough’s large and politically connected Hasidic community. And the case offered a rare window into how the Satmar community enforces its sexual values, particularly for young girls, with so-called modesty committees chastising girls for wearing revealing clothing or using cellphones, and parents pressured to pay high fees to religious counselors to treat those girls.

The case was a difficult one, because there was no physical evidence; the trial hinged on the credibility of Mr. Weberman, who is 54, and his accuser, who is 18. The girl said that Mr. Weberman had begun abusing her when she was 12; Mr. Weberman denied the allegation.

Mr. Weberman was convicted on 59 counts, consolidated by a judge from the 88 brought by prosecutors. The judge scheduled a sentencing on Jan. 9; the most serious charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, but depending on how the sentence is structured, Mr. Weberman could spend even longer in prison.

Mr. Weberman did not show emotion as the word guilty was read out, 59 times, in the courtroom. He looked briefly at members of his family, who held on to each other as the verdict was read, and then was led into custody.

One of Mr. Weberman’s lawyers, George Farkas, said he would appeal.

“We firmly believe that this jury got an unfairly sanitized version of the facts, and as a result the truth did not come out,” he said. “The struggle to clear an innocent man will continue in full force.”

The verdict was immediately seen as a watershed moment because it was the first major case in which a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg was convicted of child sexual abuse.

Prosecution of sexual abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox community has been hampered in the past by the intimidation of witnesses. In this case, Mr. Hynes’s office brought charges against several men for allegedly trying to interfere with the case, through bribery and threats. Then, during the trial, three other men were charged for taking cellphone pictures of the victim, in violation of court rules. And, although supporters of accused abusers have dominated the gallery at previous trials involving prominent ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, on many days at this trial, supporters of the accuser and advocates for abuse victims were in the majority.

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, an outspoken critic of the way the ultra-Orthodox community has handled abuse allegations, hailed the verdict Monday, saying, “I am delighted because this a step forward in the right direction, and the people in our community are learning that even though there is heavy intimidation, there are people who are still coming forward.”



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