NOTE: Rabbi Nechemy Weberman was convicted on 60 counts relating to the sexual abuse of a teen he counseled. He was sentenced to 103 years in prison. This page is currently being updated.
The Awareness Center wants to thank the survivor and those who supported her for the tenacity to let the truth be heard.
Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.
- For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules (05/11/2012)
- For Ultra-Orthodox, Clash Over Allegations (05/16/2012)
- Ultra-Orthodox Men Charged With Trying to Silence Accuser (06/21/2012)
- Ultra-Orthodox Jews Accused of Intimidating Victim in Sex Abuse Case
- 4 Men Charged With Intimidating Witnesses In Connection With Rabbi’s Sex Abuse Case (06/21/2012)
- Brooklyn men arraigned in witness-tampering case (06/21/2012)
- 4 ultra-Orthodox men charged with trying to extort witness in rabbi sex-abuse case (06/21/2012)
- Three men accused of trying to buy victim’s silence in rabbi sex abuse case (06/22/2012)
- Ultra-Orthodox Men Charged With Trying to Silence Accuser (06/22/2012)
- Most Brooklyn Abuse Cases Involve Kin (07/16/2012)
- Sexual Abuse Trial of Brooklyn Man Begins (11/26/2012)
- Teen Testifies in sex trial of ultra-Orthodox Jewish leader (11/27/2012)
- Accused molester Nechemya Weberman appears to menacingly stare at teenage accuser through glass door (11/28/2012)
- Accuser in Orthodox Abuse Trial Testified out of ‘Responsibility’ (11/30/2012)
- Four orthodox Jewish men arrested after allegedly photographing sex abuse victim on witness stand (11/30/2012)
- 4 charged over photos of teen accuser at N.Y. sex trial (11/30/2012)
- Intimidation of Orthodox Jewish Teen Continues at Sexual Abuse Trial (11/30/2012)
- SICK SEX SHOCKER: I had to reenact porn, alleged teen victim of Hasidic leader Nechemya Weberman testifies (12/01/2012)
- Mother says she paid $12,800 to ultra-Orthodox Jewish "counselor" who allegedly molested her daughter (12/04/2012)
- Hasidic counselor, Nechemya Weberman, suspected of sexual assault will testify
- Weberman testifies he 'never ever' sexually assaulted young girl, says he didn’t know anything about lingerie bought by charity he founded (12/05/2012)
- Brooklyn criminal courtroom resembles nightclub as members of the Satmar Hasidic Jewish sect show up to support Nechemya Weberman (12/05/2012)
- Nechemya Weberman Takes Stand In Sex Abuse Trial, Denies Inappropriate Relations With Teen (12/05/2012)
- Protesters lash out at how cases are being handled in the Satmar Community (12/05/2012)
- Hasidic counselor accused of molesting teen to testify (12/05/2012)
- Hasidic Man Denies Abuse of Young Girl He Counseled (12/05/2012)
- Weberman teen abuse trial questions Jewish group's customs (12/06/2012)
- Profitable not-for-profits (12/07/2012)
- After Nechemya Weberman, Hasidic Satmar sect considers sending rebel teens away (12/10/2012)
- Nechemya Weberman was convicted of 60 counts (12/10/2012)
- Jury returns in abuse case of NY counselor (12/10/2012)
- NY Orthodox Counselor Convicted of Sex Abuse (12/10/2012)
- Hasidic Man Found Guilty of Sexually Abusing Young Girl (12/10/2012)
- Jury finds Nechemya Weberman, Satmar Hasidic leader, guilty of molesting teenage girl he was paid to counsel (12/10/2012)
- Nechemya Weberman Convicted in Sex Case (12/10/2012)
- NY Orthodox counselor convicted of sex abuse (12/10/2012)
- Hasidic leader convicted after repeatedly forcing himself on girl he was counseling (12/10/2012)
- Abuse Verdict Topples a Hasidic Wall of Secrecy (12/10/2012)
- Rabbinical Council of America on Guilty Verdict of Orthodox Child Molester
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg assaulted after Nechemya Weberman’s conviction
- Justice in Williamsburg (12/11/2012)
- Hasidic Sex Abuse Victims Advocate Hit With Bleach (12/12/2012)
- Confronting Abuse (12/14/2012)
- Was Nechemya Weberman on Trial — or Satmars? (12/17/2012)
- Consider This: No more room under the carpet (12/27/2012)
- Nechemya Weberman's Unique Band of Relatives (12/28/2012)
- Orthodox Jews Face a Moment of Reckoning (12/30/2012)
- Witness Statement (12/30/2012)
- Satmar Hasidic counselor Nechemya Weberman gets 103 years for sexually abusing teen girl (01/22/2013)
- Hasidic Therapist Sentenced to 103 Years in Sexual Abuse Case (01/22/2013)
|Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, center, in his 1994 bid for attorney general, next to his wife, Patricia.|
|Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, center, in his 1994 bid for attorney general, next to his wife, Patricia.|
Correction: May 15, 2012
An article on Thursday about the intimidation some ultra-Orthodox Jews encounter in their community when they come forward with allegations of child sexual abuse misspelled the surname of a rabbi who is executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization. He is Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, not Zweibel. (The error was repeated in an article on Friday about the Brooklyn district attorney, who must decide how to handle such cases.)
For Ultra-Orthodox, Clash Over Allegations
By Sharon Otterman
|Ultra-Orthodox men look on as Sara Erenthal, 30, holds a sign in support of the young woman who accused Nechemya Weberman of sexual abuse.|
By Sharon Otterman
New York Times - June 21, 2012
The Brooklyn district attorney, facing a wave of public criticism about his handling of sexual abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, on Thursday charged four men with attempting to silence an accuser by offering her and her boyfriend a $500,000 bribe, and threatening her boyfriend’s business.
|Joseph Berger arrested|
|Jacob Berger arrested|
|Hershy Deutsch, survivors boyfriend|
By Margaret Hartmann
The New Yorker - June 22, 2012
Prosecutors charged Abraham Rubin, 48, of Williamsburg with bribery, witness tampering and coercion. They said that he had been recorded offering the accuser’s boyfriend the money, and he suggested that the young couple could flee to Israel to avoid testifying. He also offered to provide them with a lawyer who could help them avoid cooperating with prosecutors.
Prosecutors also charged three brothers, Jacob, Joseph and Hertzka Berger, with coercion, saying they threatened and then removed the kosher certification of a restaurant run by the accuser’s boyfriend. The brothers are sons of a local rabbi who issues kosher certifications to stores.
NEW YORK (CBS NewYork) – Four men have been charged with intimidating witnesses in an Ultra-Orthodox sex abuse case involving a spiritual adviser accused of molesting a teenage girl for years, according to prosecutors.
The men apparently tried to bribe the boyfriend of the young accuser with $500,000 in an attempt to get the alleged victim to drop the charges against Rabbi Nechemya Weberman or move to Israel, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said Thursday.
The boyfriend refused to accept the money and instead went to authorities, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
The men also allegedly threatened to shut down the boyfriend’s Kosher restaurant, WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reported.
The men pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges including witness intimidation and coercion. The district attorney said it’s the first prosecution in 20 years in which defendants are charged with intimidating witnesses in a sex abuse case.
Bail has been set at $75,000 for Abraham Rubin and $5,000 for brothers Jacob, Joseph and Hertzka Berger.
“They all deny the allegations. They are obviously going to be fighting these charges vehemently,” Bruce Wenger, Hertzka Berger’s attorney, told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
Weberman, 53, is accused of raping and abusing the girl for nearly three years starting when she was 12 years old. The girl is now 17.
Weberman has pleaded not guilty to committing a criminal sex act, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse.
“This was an attempt to buy the silence of Weberman‘s victim as well as another witness who knew what she had gone through,” District Attorney Hynes said.
Last month in Williamsburg, supporters of Weberman ralled to raise funds for his legal defense. With charges now against four supporters, attorney Michael Farkas told CBS 2′s Slattery, “Mr Weberman had no prior knowledge of or involvement with these deplorable acts, which, if proven to be true, are reprehensible.”
The indictments come at a time when Hynes has been under fire for refusing to name charged abusers to protect victims and their families from being ostracized by the community.
Law enforcement sources said one of the alleged incidents happened at a kosher restaurant that is now shut down.
Abraham Rubin, 48, was taken into the courtroom in handcuffs. He was arraigned on felony bribery and witness tampering charges. Prosecutors say he offered a child sex abuse victim and her boyfriend half a million dollars to make the case go away.
The case was brought against a prominent figure, counselor Nechemya Weberman.
The district attorney says the victim was taken to him for counseling when she was just 12 years old but instead she was subjected to 3 years of sexual abuse.
Dozens of members of the Satmar religious community, some hiding their faces, turned out to support Rubin and three brothers also facing charges.
Hertzka, Jacob and Joseph Berger allegedly tried to convince the victim and her witness boyfriend not to cooperate.
The D.A. says they tore down the kosher certification from the boyfriend's Williamsburg restaurant.
All four suspects pleaded not guilty.
The sexual abuse case against Weberman has rocked this insular community. It also prompted criticism that sexual abuse crimes, especially against children, were not aggressively prosecuted.
But now the NYPD is part of a special task force.
All four suspects made bail.
Rubin is looking at up to 7 years behind bars if convicted.
The sex abuse case against the prominent counselor is moving forward, and the trial is expected to start in July.
Four ultra-Orthodox Jewish men were busted yesterday for trying to make a sensational sex-abuse case against a prominent Brooklyn rabbi vanish by intimidating potential witnesses in his upcoming trial.
“No one can engage in this kind of conduct and feel free that, based on prior experience, nothing is going to happen,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who’s come under heavy criticism for his handling of cases involving alleged perverts from the ultra-Orthodox community.
“Intimidation of victims and witnesses in sex-abuse cases in the Orthodox community is what has made prosecuting these cases so difficult,” Hynes said.
Abraham Rubin, 48, was charged with offering a $500,000 bribe to a young woman and her boyfriend so they could “basically disappear” and leave the country, after they had accused Rabbi Nechemya Weberman of molesting her during spiritual- counseling sessions when she was 12.
“He has no regard for the system,” Assistant District Attorney Josh Hanshaft said of Rubin. “He thumbed his nose at the system.”
Brothers Joseph, Jacob and Hertzka Berger also were charged with trying to silence the pair by threatening to strip away a rabbi’s kosher certification from the boyfriend’s restaurant.
When the boyfriend refused, prosecutors said, Jacob Berger ripped down the seal anyway.
“They have gone and destroyed property, they made threatening phone calls,” Hanshaft said. “They do what they have to do for the case to go away.”
The splashy arrests in Williamsburg’s ultra-Orthodox community were announced as Hynes continues taking heat for refusing to identify alleged sexual offenders in the close-knit community, for fear that accusers will be outed and ostracized.
“If you’re dealing with organized crime, which is another group of intimidators, at least I can offer a witness who’s threatened or intimidated an opportunity to go into witness protection,” Hynes said.
“That’s not an option for people who live and are part of this culture.”
The four men were led in handcuffs into a courtroom packed with ultra-Orthodox supporters from a community that also has held large rallies to raise funds for Weberman’s legal defense.
“The community stands behind them 100 percent,” said Michael Elbaz, a defense lawyer for Joseph Berger.
Hynes said investigators could find no evidence of a connection between the four men and Weberman, whose own lawyer said he was in the dark on their alleged efforts to silence witnesses.
“Mr. Weberman had no prior knowledge of or any involvement with these deplorable acts, which, if proven to be true, are reprehensible,” said George Farkas, a lawyer for the 53-year-old accused child molester.
“Mr. Weberman has stated from the beginning that no one should be subjected to any kind of harassment,” Farkas said.
The start of Weberman’s sex-abuse trial was delayed last week after his lawyers said a yeshiva he was affiliated with repeatedly ignored requests for information.
Three men accused of trying to buy victim’s silence in rabbi sex abuse case
By Aaron Short
The Brookyn Paper - June 22, 2012
Prosecutors accused four Orthodox Jewish men of trying to use threats and bribes to convince a victim and a witness to drop a sexual assault case against an influential Williamsburg rabbi.
|Abraham Rubin (Witness Tampering)|
Rubin bore the brunt of the charges for allegedly trying to buy the victim’s silence with a $500,000 bribe and advising them to flee the country. He even offered to provide the witness with an attorney who could help them learn techniques so they could be uncooperative at the trial, according to authorities.
Prosecutors slapped Rubin with four counts of bribing a witness, two counts of tampering with a witness, and one count of coercion. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.
The Berger brothers received a separate indictment for pressuring the victim and the witness to stop helping law enforcement and threatening to close the witness’s kosher restaurant, according to investigators.
Jacob Berger allegedly went to the witness’s diner and ripped off its rabbi-issued kosher certification. The witness has since closed his Williamsburg cafe.
Joseph Berger received a charge of aggravated harassment. He faces four years in prison if convicted. His siblings face charges of coercion and one year in prison if convicted.
Civic and religious leaders have chastised Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes for concealing the identity of sex abusers in Brooklyn’s strictly conservative Hasidic communities — but Hynes said the indictments prove his office “will not tolerate individuals who try to interfere with the pursuit of justice.”
“Intimidation of victims and witnesses in sex abuse cases in the Orthodox community is what has made prosecuting these cases so difficult,” said Hynes. “Victims were afraid to come forward because they would be threatened and shunned in their communities. My office spares no effort to conceal and protect the identities of sex crimes victims, regardless of their cultural or religious background.”
A trial for Weberman, a Hasidic therapist who allegedly molested a 12-year-old girl from 2007 to 2010 during counseling sessions in his home-office, was set to begin this month but has been delayed.
Weberman and his attorney vehemently deny the molestation charges.
By Sharon Otterman
New York Times - June 21, 2012
The Brooklyn district attorney, facing a wave of public criticism about his handling of sexual abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, on Thursday charged four men with attempting to silence an accuser by offering her and her boyfriend a $500,000 bribe, and threatening her boyfriend’s business.
By Paul Berger
Forward - July 16, 2012
Recent media accounts of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community have highlighted the threat victims face from teachers, rabbis and yeshiva staff as perpetrators, and the special pressures — even intimidation — they face from community leaders not to report such cases to secular law enforcement.
But a list of child sexual abuse cases in that community suggests that another source of pressure, even closer to home, may be at least as important.
The list, released by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes earlier this year, describes 97 abuse cases that Hynes says he prosecuted over the last three years. According to the data, 20% of these cases involved family members — usually fathers, brothers or uncles — and another 37% involved a perpetrator who was a friend or acquaintance.
By contrast, only about 12% of the cases appeared to involve rabbis, bar mitzvah tutors, counselors or yeshiva employees, including janitors and security guards. The next largest group of perpetrators consisted of strangers, who accounted for about 17% of Hynes’s Orthodox-related prosecutions.
The information from Hynes’s list must be treated with caution for a number of reasons. Some cases — Hynes’s office won’t say which — include adult victims while others involved non-Jewish perpetrators or victims. But according to Rhonnie Jaus, the head of Hynes’s sex crimes division, the “vast majority” of cases described are those of Orthodox children.
Hynes has also refused to release the names of the perpetrators, making an assessment of the professional positions of those described as family members impossible. Also, rabbis and other authority figures may make up a larger proportion of offenders than the list indicates, but not be present on it simply because people are too scared to report them.
Nevertheless, according to specialists in the field of child abuse, the data are consistent with what is known about such abuse more broadly. Cases involving ultra-Orthodox authority figures dominate headlines, as do those involving clergy members, football coaches and schoolteachers, because they often tend to have large numbers of victims. In terms of victims per perpetrator, such figures constitute concentrated sources of threat to children. But Hynes’s chart indicates that the general threat from family members cannot be ignored.
“You tend to expect that the majority of offenders are not people in a high-profile position,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. “They are brothers and uncles, fathers and neighbors.”
Just as secular victims often struggle to bring charges against people close to them, ultra-Orthodox families also grapple with the implications of accusing friends and relatives, these experts say.
“The family doesn’t want the breadwinner to be jailed and the income cut off,” Finkelhor said of secular victims’ families. “They don’t want the rest of the family turning against them because the kid’s fingered the grandparent.”
While the incidence of child sexual abuse within the circle of family and close acquaintances may be no greater than in secular society, ultra-Orthodox families do face special issues when wrestling with the challenge of reporting such people to the police.
Judy Braun, an author who was raised in the ultra-Orthodox community, said the distinction between family and non-family cases may be only partially useful when examining the ultra-Orthodox community. Braun, whose recent novel, “Hush,” is based on her experience of witnessing a friend being abused by a family member, said that because the community is like an extended family, there is often little perceived difference between family members and non-family members. “The [perpetrator] is a third cousin, or a friend of the family, or a son-in-law of a [family member],” Braun said. “It’s like a spider web.”
Further, even without direct and explicit interference from rabbinic authorities or the pressure of ruining a relative’s life, Braun said, parents are under intense pressure not to risk their children being tarnished as impure. “The attitude is a bit like Muslims,” Braun said. “It’s a stain on the [victims] themselves.”
Mesirah — a religious prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to the secular authorities — is often blamed for dissuading victims from reporting abusers to the police. But there is anecdotal evidence that even in cases where the perpetrator is a non-Jew, ultra-Orthodox families struggle to go to police.
According to Jaus, in one recent case two ultra-Orthodox girls were separately abducted and sexually assaulted. A DNA sample linked a non-Jewish man to the crimes. But both families refused to cooperate, in part, said Jaus, because they feared that an investigation could tarnish the girls’ marriage chances as well as their siblings’ ability to get into school and get married. (Law enforcement sources confirmed that an indictment has finally been filed after one of the families agreed to cooperate.)
Such cases stand or fall on fears of stigma and shame, rather than intimidation. Marci Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University, said victims who cooperate with police risk their future on the hope that they will not be identified. “I’ve heard a number of victims who told me that their lives are literally destroyed, ruined,” Hamilton said. “They will never marry if anyone finds out they were assaulted.”
Even in cases not involving rabbis or other respected community figures, leaders within Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox community still often pressure families, according to Jaus. “It’s not just well respected rabbis or someone from school” acting as a perpetrator that sparks community pressure, she said.
Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance, said such concerns are typical of conservative religious communities. “The shame created around abuse ought to be exclusively carried on the shoulders of the abuser,” Huizar said. Instead, shame is displaced onto victims and their families, representing “a shifting of moral responsibility and weight from the offender to the victim.”
Hannah Rubin contributed reporting for this story.
By Sharon Otterman
New York Times - November 26, 2012
The abuse began when the girl was 12 years old, prosecutors in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn said on Monday. She was sent to a prominent man in her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community for counseling, and prosecutors said the man sexually molested her over the next three years.
Accused molester Nechemya Weberman appears to menacingly stare at teenage accuser through glass door.
Accused molester Nechemya Weberman appears to menacingly stare at teenage accuser through glass door
The 17-year-old girl was having a moment of peace in an interview room during recess in the trial of Nechemya Weberman, whom she has accused of sexually abusing her four times a week for three years starting from the time she was 12.
But when the beautiful teenager looked up, she saw Weberman, staring at her through the glass long enough to set the officers scrambling.
George Farkas, a member of Weberman’s defense team, was quick to call the menacing allegation “pure unadulterated bulls---.”
But Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, director of the Center for Jewish Family Life, which publishes the children's book "Let's Play Safe!" about how kids can protect themselves from molesters, told the Daily News, “I was there. I saw it.”
She was having none of it, heading calmly back to the witness stand in her Ugg boots and chic outfit, looking nothing like the covered-up daughter of the Satmar sect she once was. Now it was her turn to stare Weberman down, as she coolly answered lawyer Michael Farkas’ questions about a boyfriend she dared to have, known in court as Mr. S.
Farkas asked about her parents’ opposition to her romance.
What the jury didn’t hear was that the girl’s father, at Weberman’s suggestion, set up a video camera that recorded her lovemaking, and that the boyfriend was busted on statutory rape charges, later dropped. Weberman’s defense is that this girl, then 15, concocted her entire accusation in revenge for his betrayal.
It is difficult to imagine a girl more trapped in a free country. Weberman, 54 and a fellow member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, was not only her father’s business partner, he was her unlicensed therapist. Yeshiva officials sent her to him when she dared to wear sheer tights to school and write poetry. He insisted on seeing her four times a week, when the alleged abuse, including oral sex, took place.
There were no Satmars there to support the girl, but the court was filled with Lubavitcher and other Orthodox Jews.
“We are an insular community — with us it’s not six degrees of separation, it’s two or three,” said Ezra Max, a teacher. “So for children or young adults who’ve been abused, it’s an additional challenge for them to come forward.”
“I just think she’s so brave,” said a girl who identified herself as the best friend of the witness. “I’m just so proud of her.”
By Pervaiz Shallwani
Washington Post - November 30, 2012
The young woman who accused a respected ultra-Orthodox Jewish counselor of sexual abuse wrapped up her testimony Friday afternoon, telling jurors that she came forward because she felt a sense of “responsibility.”
Asked by prosecutors why she decided to step forward after three years of allegedly being abused by Nechemya Weberman, 54 years old, the 17-year-old testified, “I felt like I had a responsibility.”
“I didn’t want anybody else to go through what I went through,” she said.
Weberman is accused of sexually abusing the girl dozens of times in his Williamsburg home and office over a three-year span beginning when she was 12 years old.
At one point Friday, the trial had to be halted when the accuser started crying as defense attorney Michael Farkas questioned her about specific details from earlier testimony describing some of the alleged sexual acts committed by Weberman.
The trial has put the insular Satmar Hasidic community, an ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, under the spotlight, drawing packed crowds each day, with some having to wait outside in hopes of getting a courtroom seat.
For a second day, court officers checked the cell phones of all spectators before they entered the courtroom and an undercover officer kept watch over the alleged victim while she was in the courthouse.
Cell phones were banned from the audience on Thursday after four men were arrested for allegedly taking photos in the courtroom, including one of the victim while she was on the stand.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office charged the four men on Friday with criminal contempt, a misdemeanor.
The trial, which was originally expected to last a week, continues Monday with the girl’s parents expected to testify for the prosecution. Weberman may testify in his defense later in the week.
By Julia Dahl
CBS News - November 30, 2012
The men were attending the trial of Nechemya Weberman, who is accused of forcing the girl, who was sent to him for counseling at the age of 12, to perform oral sex on him over a period of three years.
The New York Times reports that according to a Brooklyn prosecutor's spokesperson, the men allegedly uploaded at least one of the photographs, taken on cell phones, to Twitter.
"The message they're trying to send to victims in this community is to keep quiet," says Ben Hirsch, the president of Survivors for Justice, an advocacy and educational group on issues of sexual abuse within the orthodox community. "If you step out of line, you're not safe. The judge, the DA, they cannot protect you. We're going to get you. We're going to expose you."
Weberman and the alleged victim, now 17, are both members of the ultra-orthodox Satmar sect, an insular Jewish community based in Brooklyn, N.Y. The girl was reportedly sent to Weberman for counseling because she was behaving in a "rebellious" manner, including reading People magazine and wearing stockings that were not considered thick enough to adhere to the strict modesty standards of the community.
"To an outsider, the reasons they were forcing her into counseling are hard to fathom," says Hirsch. But, he says, the girl's parents "trusted" Weberman, and were told that if she did not receive his counseling, she would be kicked out of school.
Weberman is accused of, among other things, forcing the girl to perform oral sex on him during these "counseling" sessions.
"He is charismatic," says Hirsch. "And he was the go-to guy for 'troubled' kids. If people believed their child was leaving the fold they would go to him. Parents sought him out and trusted him."
Hirsch says that he wasn't surprised to learn of the alleged photographing, saying that the leadership of the ultra-orthodox community sees the girl's accusations and testimony as "dragging the community through the mud."
"This conduct is par for the course," says Hirsch. "If you don't toe the line, there are no rules."
Over the summer, four men from the Satmar sect were arrested for allegedly attempting to keep the girl from testifying against Weberman by offering her a $500,000 bribe. According to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, Jacob Berger, Joseph Berger, Hertzka Berger and Abraham Rubin were charged with counts including aggravated harassment and coercion. The case is pending.
The four men arrested on Thursday have been identified by the Brooklyn prosecutor as Joseph Fried, Yona Weisman, Abraham Zupnick and Lemon Juice. They are expected to be arraigned on charges of criminal contempt Friday afternoon.
4 charged over photos of teen accuser at N.Y. sex trial
By Michael Winter
USA Today - November 30, 2012
6:38PM EST November 30. 2012 - Four Brooklyn men face contempt charges for allegedly taking courtroom photos of a teenage girl as she testified against an Orthodox Jewish leader she accused of sexually abusing her. One iPhone image was posted to Twitter.
New York state bans photography in courtrooms without approval.
The 17-year-old girl testified that Nechemya Weberman, 54, molested her from ages 12 to 15 during religious counseling in his apartment office, the New York Daily News says. She was sent to him "because she objected to wearing thick tights and other clothing she considered overly modest," the paper writes.
The four supporters of Weberman -- Lemon Juice, Abraham Zupnick, Joseph Fried and Yona Weisman -- were led in handcuffs Thursday from the courtroom of Supreme Court Justice John Ingram. They also allegedly took cellphone photos Wednesday as the girl testified. She was expected to return to the stand Friday.
"This is on the Internet now!" Ingram said angrily. "It's probably streamed all over the world."
"What you have done, apparently, is take the photos in the courtroom yesterday and today," he continued. "You know about the law; you know about the Torah; you know about rabbinical courts. This is a civil court!"
The New York Post characterized the photos as "gangland tactics to intimidate a teen as she bravely testified."
In June, a man was charged after he allegedly offered the teen $500,000 to drop the charges, and three other Weberman supporters were accused of intimidation.
After the four men were removed, the judge ordered all spectators to surrender their phones, noting that photos were also taken of Weberman and a defense lawyer, the Post says.
"I don't know what's wrong with you people! Turn off your phones!" Ingram railed.
Intimidation of Orthodox Jewish Teen Continues at Sexual Abuse Trial
By Joe Coscarelli
The New Yorker - November 30, 2012
SICK SEX SHOCKER: I had to reenact porn, alleged teen victim of Hasidic leader Nechemya Weberman testifies
New York Daily News - December 1, 2012
I had to “copy what was in the porn,” the beautiful blond 17-year-old testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court. “I remember it happening a lot.”
During her fourth grueling day on the stand, the teen detailed why she hid her torment, which allegedly lasted for three years, beginning in 2007 when she was 12.
“Everybody respected him, he was a leader,” she said of Weberman, 54, whom she described as a member of the powerful modesty committee, which enforces the morality rules of the insular sect.
She never broke down on the stand, even when confronted with intimate details of her tumultuous early teens.
“I’m so happy that it’s over for now,” one of her close friends said outside court. “She’s a hero.”
Testimony by the recently married teenager was the key evidence in the high-stakes trial that has been marked by incidents of purported intimidation.
Three ultra-Orthodox men were arraigned Friday evening after they allegedly took photos inside the courtroom earlier this week — including one of the teen on the stand — and posted them on the Internet. Lemon Juice, Joseph Fried and Yona Weisman were charged with contempt of court. Juice had legally changed his name from Joel Weingarten, according to his friends, though it was unclear why.
Juice’s lawyer, Leopold Gross, insisted his client was actually a supporter of the teen — though his motivations remained a mystery.
All three were held on $5,000 bond. A friend of theirs, Moses Klein, pledged to bail out the alleged scuzzy shutterbugs.
A fourth man initially thought to have taken pictures was not charged due to lack of evidence.
In another bizarre twist, Fried, who runs a news service for the Satmar community, had been secretly recorded arguing with the alleged victim’s now-husband a few months ago.
“Even if it’s true, he shouldn’t go to jail,” Fried is heard saying of Weberman, according to the recording obtained by the Daily News and translated from Yiddish. “A Jew doesn’t belong in jail.”
The contentious conversation came after three men stripped a kosher certificate from the husband’s restaurant, leading to harassment charges against them.
Another Hasid was accused of offering the couple $500,000 in hush money to make the case go away.
CBS News / AP - December 4, 2012
CBS/AP) NEW YORK - The mother of a teenage girl who is accusing a member of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect of sexual abuse claims says she paid her daughter's alleged abuser, Nechemya Weberman, $12,800 for "counseling" services that the girl's school demanded she receive.
The woman testified Monday that her daughter's Brooklyn school told her she had to send the then- 12-year-old girl to see Weberman - who was an unlicensed counselor - otherwise she'd be expelled from school, because she had questioned her teachers about their religion and had worn clothing that wasn't modest enough.
Prosecutors say the girl was molested by Weberman, 54, for years. Defense attorneys say the counselor is the victim of a vindictive child, angry that he had betrayed her trust.
The case has been a crash course for jurors about the customs and rules in Weberman's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, home to about 250,000 followers and the largest such community outside Israel. His trial has rocked their insular, tight-knit group, not only because of the shocking charges but also because the case is being played out in a public court and its guarded society strongly discourages going to outside authorities.
Last week, four men were arrested when they allegedly snapped pictures of the plaintiff as she testified, then posted them online. And before the trial began, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes charged other men with trying to bribe the girl to drop the charges.
The girl, now 17, testified that she and her family were harassed and shunned for coming forward; her father lost his business and her nieces were kicked out of school.
The girl testified for three days about the abuse, detailing that Weberman forced her to perform oral sex and act out porn films. She said the abuse lasted from 2007 to 2010.
"I wanted to die rather than live with myself," the girl testified. "I didn't know how to fight. I was numb."
Weberman has pleaded not guilty to 88 charges of sexual abuse and misconduct. Defense attorneys said the girl fabricated the stories as an act of revenge because she had told Weberman she had a boyfriend at age 15, forbidden in her community, and believed he then told her parents.
"There was only one answer," defense attorney George Farkas said. "Vengeance and revenge against Nechemya Weberman, and through this, to bring down the entire community."
The defense questioned why she didn't come forward sooner, and tried to pick apart inconsistencies in her statement. She admitted that she talked with Weberman about other things, confiding in him about her doubts on religion.
"It wasn't just touching," she said.
The Lingerie Shop at 4813 13th Ave. in Brooklyn.
"They think it's their fault," she said. "They don't think they are going to be believed."
The allegations surfaced last year when the girl told a guidance counselor at a different school that she'd been molested. She eventually went to police.
The Associated Press typically doesn't identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault.
The girl, who will be 18 this week and was recently married, was shunned, she said. Her community, the Satmar Hasidic sect, turned against her for going to police and for accusing such a well-respected man, her family said. Newspapers decried her story, and a fundraiser was held for Weberman. Leaders of the sect have expressed support for him.
But the girl has received growing support, and the courtroom was packed for days during her testimony. On Monday, her mother testified that she is a bright, loving, respectful girl, what any mother could wish. The girl and three other siblings out of seven in the family have since left the Satmar sect.
"Do you still love them?" Assistant District Attorney Kevin O'Donnell asked.
"Very much," she said.
New York Daily News - December 4, 2012
|Nechema Weberman - Alleged Sex Offender, Unlicensed Counselor|
Nechemya Weberman is accused of sexually abusing girl he was counseling.
A once-respected Hasidic counselor accused of sexually assaulting a Brooklyn girl is expected to take the stand in his own defense Wednesday .
Nechemya Weberman, 54, is accused by the teenager of forcing her to perform oral sex and reenact porn during three years of spiritual counseling that started when she was 12.
Tuesday’s witnesses represented the torturous journey of the alleged victim — who turns 18 Wednesday — from a student who rebelled against the strict modesty rules at her Satmar school to a “depressed” teen who reported the purported abuse. In December 2010, social worker Sarah Fried testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court, the “very anxious” girl recounted her “trauma.”
“At the end of the session, she uttered the words ‘I was molested,’” Fried testified, “then ran out of the office.”
It wasn’t until February 2011 that the girl named Weberman - an accusation the defense contends was motivated by revenge upon learning the counselor set up her boyfriend to be arrested.
The teen ended up at Weberman’s home office in 2007 after having trouble at her school, where the thickness of her tights was constantly examined.
“Her modesty was not like the other girls’,” said Benzion Feuerwerger, the principal of the girls school at United Talmudic Academy in Williamsburg.
He added that the school demanded the girl’s parents pay $12,800, mostly as an upfront fee for Weberman’s services, if they wanted their daughter to stay enrolled.
The principal, who said he had no secondary education beyond yeshivas, was also asked if he knows about Va’ad Hatznius, a Hasidic squad that enforces modesty rules and to which prosecutors say Weberman belongs.
“It doesn’t exist, as far as I know,” Feuerwerger said, to gasps in the packed courtroom. The modesty patrol is a well-known presence in the Satmar community.
Having Weberman take the stand is tactic that’s not without risks. During pretrial hearings last summer, prosecutors claimed six other women have made allegations against the defendant, but none agreed to press charges, which barred them from addressing the jury.
Under exceptional circumstances, court insiders said, Weberman's testimony might open the door to allow other alleged victims to be heard.
By Oren Yaniv
New York Daily News - December 5, 2012
The 54-year-old defendant testified he did not inappropriately touch the alleged victim, who turned 18 Wednesday.
Prosecutors also raised the specter that Weberman may have sexually abused other teens — allegations that were also denied in court.
Presenting himself as a “rabbinical counselor,” Weberman, said he started a not-for-profit organization called B’lev V’nefesh, Hebrew for “in heart and soul,” around 2000. He said it was used to raise money for those who can’t afford his services.
He was then confronted with financial records showing that the charity’s credit cards were used at BMG Corset & Lingerie, The Lingerie Shop and other undergarment stores.
“Me, myself, I’m not aware of this,” Weberman said. “This is the first time I heard about it.”
Weberman took the stand to defend himself against charges that he sexually molested a beautiful Satmar teenager while he was supposed to be her therapist. Lubavitcher and Modern Orthodox Jews showed up to support the woman, sequestered in another room, quietly celebrating, if you could call it that, her 18th birthday.
New York Daily News - December 5, 2012
With a costumed crowd pressing against velvet ropes begging to be let in, the Brooklyn criminal courtroom resembled a nightclub Wednesday.The iconoclastic garb of the Satmar Hasidic Jewish sect was unmistakable as members showed up to support Nechemya Weberman when he took the stand to defend himself against charges that he sexually molested a beautiful Satmar teenager while he was supposed to be her therapist. Lubavitcher and Modern Orthodox Jews showed up to support the woman, sequestered in another room, quietly celebrating, if you could call it that, her 18th birthday.
Ladies in wigs and hats, with long skirts and arms and legs covered, sat apart from the men in dark suits, wearing yarmulkes, their hair in forelocks, as the jury as diverse as Brooklyn itself stared out over the insular community and got a lesson in Hasidism 101 from the testimony.
Like the fact that what you wear is no joke, as the alleged victim found out when she began to break the dress code with short skirts and sheer tights, and when she began to share pop songs like “Love Can Kill You” and sneak off to Hollywood movies.
The recalcitrant teen had come to the attention of an internal committee of men called the Va’ad Hatznius, which helps enforce modesty rules — among 613 commandments Satmar members believe must be followed.
According to the testimony of another young woman who'd taken the stand Wednesday morning, you don't want to mess with Va’ad Hatznius.
“Isn't it true that masked individuals came into your bedroom in the middle of the night and seized your cell phone?” no-nonsense prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell asked Baila Gluck. “And that this is the type of action Va’ad Hatznius takes when Satmar don't follow the rules? And wasn't it traumatic for you?” Yes. Yes. And yes.
But it was nothing like the trauma Weberman's accuser said she suffered as he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex and recreate scenes from porn movies. She had been ordered by her religious school's principal, Weberman's cousin, to go to Weberman for therapy, which he had no license to provide. And her parents were forced to pay for it.
If she didn't get therapy, she would be thrown out of the school, Weberman admitted. Though Weberman adamantly denied ever molesting her, the girl says the abuse went on for three years.
A young Satmar woman dressed modestly but wearing green nail polish against her husband's wishes told the Daily News, “I don't have time to come here, but I'm compelled to listen for myself. I need to know the truth.”
The victim of molestation for five years as a child, Debbie Teller set up the website adkanenough.com — Enough is Enough — to post names of sex offenders in the Orthodox community worldwide. Since the Weberman trial began, her site’s visitors have spiked by the thousands.
Sex abuse isn't greater within the Hasidic community than outside, said social worker Carole Sher, who helps run the SOURI Hotline, Support Orthodox Victims of Rape and Incest.
But there's been a lot of covering up in the past. But now with more receptive rabbis and greater communication, that's changing.”
The Brooklyn jury learned that if a Jewish person reported another Jewish person to the police, they would be labeled a “moser” — informer — and ostracized as strongly as a Mob rat.
With the Internet, the thin black line of silence in the religious community has been erased, agreed Joey DiAngello, perhaps one of the most colorful people attending the trial.
Born Yoel Deutsch into the Satmar sect 32 years ago, DiAngello, a heavy-metal drummer with Slayer and Iron Maiden tatoos on his arms, told The News he was raped at the age of seven in a mikvah, or public bath. He's set up the Facebook pages War on Vaad Hatznius and Survivors for Justice.
“I've gotten tweets from people calling me a self-hating Jew, but I really want to help Jewish kids in the same situation I was in,” he says. “It's like metal. I have something to say, and if you don't like it, I'll turn it up even louder.”
Says Accuser First Cursed At Him Then Opened Up To 'Tell Me Things'
CBS News New York - December 5, 2012 7:30 PM
On the day his accuser turned 18 years old, Nechemya Weberman walked into court and told the jury he never sexually abused anyone inside his Brooklyn home office where he counseled people.
“Have you ever inappropriately touched (her)?” his lawyer asked.
“Never, ever,” was Weberman’s answer.
The well-known Weberman is accused of sexually abusing the then-12-year-old from 2007 to 2010 during counseling sessions.
In court, he remembered what she said during their first meeting.
“She literally asked me, ‘Why should I trust you? Why should I talk to you?’ She said I looked like a ‘Chassidish (expletive).’”
Over time, Weberman said he gained her trust.
“She started to open up, tell me things,” Weberman testified.
But after a few years of successful counseling came the breaking point — the arrest of a boyfriend she wasn’t supposed to have because of her strict religion.
The crux of the defense team’s case is that the alleged victim’s accusation is all driven by revenge.
Weberman strongly denied every having inappropriate relations with the young woman.
The 54-year-old father of 10 said he began counseling members of the Satmar community several years earlier.
Defense Attorney: “Did she say you were responsible for (her boyfriend’s) arrest?”
Defense Attorney: “Did she say she knew you told all her secrets to her father?”
Defense Attorney: “Did she tell you ‘we are going to get you?’”
Weberman testified he was arrested not long after that and didn’t see his accuser again until last week, when she told the jury he had sexually abused her for three years.
Weberman has been charged with 88 counts of sexual abuse against a minor.
Closing arguments in the case will be Thursday.
Hasidic counselor accused of molesting teen to testify
A brief timeline of the sexual abuse case that has rocked the Satmar community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
BY Amy S. Choi
Salon - December 5, 2012
Nechemya Weberman, accused of orally raping and sexually abusing a teenage girl from 2007 to 2010, is expected to take the stand in the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn this week. His accuser, now 17 years old, testified last week against Weberman, a pillar and renowned “counselor” in the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Weberman is accused of 88 accounts of sexual abuse of a minor from the time the girl was 12 until she was 15.
|Convicted Sex Offender - Nechemya Weberman|
2007: The accuser, a 12-year-old at the time, begins questioning authority at United Talmudical Academy, her ultra-religious school. Her parents are forced to send her to counseling for her “heretic” behavior.
2007-2010: During years of locked-door “therapy” sessions, Weberman (who doesn’t have any kind of psychotherapy or social work license) allegedly abuses the girl. In addition to oral sex and touching, he forces her to watch pornography and then mimic the acts, often while his own children and wife are in the next room.
2009: The girl breaks religious law when she begins dating Jeremy Solomon. She confides in Weberman about the relationship.
2010: Solomon is arrested and charged with statutory rape after a sex tape is discovered, revealing him and the girl. The charges are eventually dropped, but the girl testifies that she believes her father and Weberman conspired to secretly film the couple and file charges.
2011: The girl files abuse charges against Weberman. Going public with the abuse to secular authorities, rather than rabbinical ones, creates a massive rift in the community.
And fast forward to this year…
May 2012: The Satmar community organizes a huge fundraiser to benefit Weberman. Hershy Deutsch, the accuser’s boyfriend at the time, and now husband, organizes a counter-rally.
June 2012: Four Williamsburg men are arrested and charged with intimidation after offering the accuser $500,000 to drop the case.
November 26, 2012: Trial starts, and the girl completes 15 hours of testimony. Four men are arrested and charged with criminal contempt in the second degree for taking cell phone pictures of the accuser and distributing her image over email and Twitter. The girl’s court room security and privacy is increased after court officers find Weberman staring at her threateningly through a window in the court room.
And now, we wait to see what Weberman has to say for himself. He has somewhat surprisingly not had many supporters in the court room, while many religious Jews have come forward to support the accuser. Those supporters, however, are mostly from outside the Williamsburg Satmar community. So far, his attorneys’ primary defense seems to be that the accuser is a “free spirit” and that she was acting in revenge over the sex tape (read: teenage accuser is a vengeful slut).
And we wait to see how the press continues to cover the trial. While the media has mostly been restrained, veiled misogyny and anti-Semitism wouldn’t be unanticipated. If anything, coverage has been perhaps too restrained. The New York Times, which has done a decent job of covering the case (squeamishness over using the word “rape” aside), made a point to note that the trial would include “sexually explicit and culturally intricate testimony.”
Let’s call a spade a spade. Culturally intricate = misogynistic. Sexually explicit = sexual abuse. This case is about exposing the abuse of power. Let’s not have it expose our timidity, too.
Hasidic Man Denies Abuse of Young Girl He Counseled
New York TImes - December 5, 2012
Nechemya Weberman, the unlicensed ultra-Orthodox Jewish counselor charged with repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl in his care, testified in a Brooklyn courtroom on Wednesday that he had “never, ever” touched her inappropriately.
Weberman teen abuse trial questions Jewish group's customs
New York Post - December 7, 2012
Satmar Hasidim — they’re just like everybody else!
New Yorkers got a look inside the insular culture of ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn this week thanks to the sexual-abuse trial of a prominent Hasidic leader in Williamsburg.
Despite all the outward oddities of the man on trial — his black suit, untrimmed beard and lengthy side-curls — it turns out he’s right smack in the mainstream of secular political life in New York.
He has a not-for-profit cash cow, too.
Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed counselor accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl in his care, testified Wednesday that he ripped off a charity he founded ostensibly to help poor Brooklynites.
“Yes I did,” Weberman replied, admitting that he spent donations meant for his group, B’Lev V’Nefesh, on tuition for his kids’ yeshiva — and that its cash was also spent at stores like BMG Corset & Lingerie.
Creepy, sure. But par for the course in New York, where politicians routinely turn nonprofits into personal piggy banks.
* Shirley Huntley, a state senator from Queens, founded an empty-shell nonprofit called The Parents Network right before she took office in 2006. She steered $30,000 in taxpayer money to her niece, who ran the group, and tried to send even more before she was arrested this year.
* Larry Seabrook, a former city councilman from Brooklyn, was convicted of funneling $1.5 million in taxpayer funds to his mistress, his sister, two brothers and other pals through a network of nonprofit groups he controlled. He faces up to 180 years in prison.
* Pedro Espada, the former state senator from The Bronx, was convicted of looting $545,000 from his federally funded nonprofit health clinic to pay for vacations, lavish birthday parties and theater tickets. He then tapped the nonprofit for another $1 million to cover his legal fees.
* Brian McLaughlin, a former Queens assemblyman and powerful labor leader, steered $95,000 meant for a local nonprofit Little League to pals of his, just one piece of the $3.1 million he stole from public and private enterprises. He got 10 years in prison for his crimes.
Weberman, of course, holds no elective office — but he is a leader in his community and has abused its trust.
Just like the others.
Happily, Gov. Cuomo has noticed the pattern, promoting legislation that would cap the often sky-high salaries at nonprofits that benefit from state funds.
But that won’t solve the whole problem.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has pursued abusers like Huntley, but since religious charities don’t have to register with the state, Weberman’s nonprofit wasn’t on the AG’s radar before this week.
That needs to change — fast.
Time to get cracking, Albany.
New York Daily News - December 10, 2012
Nechemya Weberman was convicted of 60 counts
|Nechemya Weberman - Convicted Sex Offender|
Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC
Founder and CEO
The Awareness Center, Inc.
NEW YORK — Deliberations have resumed in the trial of a New York religious counselor accused of sexually abusing a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.
Nechemya (nuh-HEHM'-yuh) Weberman has been charged with sustained sexual abuse against a child.
The accuser, who's now 18, testified that she was abused from the time she was 12 to 15 behind his locked office door.
The Brooklyn jurors returned Monday after deliberating for about an hour Friday.
The accuser says that she was afraid to come forward because Weberman was a powerful man in her ultra-orthodox Jewish community. The allegations surfaced in 2011 when she told a different counselor she had been abused.
Weberman is not a licensed counselor. He testified in his own defense that he "never, ever" touched her.
NY Orthodox Counselor Convicted of Sex Abuse
By COLLEEN LONG
Associated Press (NEW YORK) - December 10, 2012
A religious counselor in New York's ultra-orthodox Jewish community was convicted Monday of the sustained sexual abuse of a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.
The courtroom was silent as Nechemya Weberman was convicted of 60 counts, including sustained sex abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and other counts. He faces 25 years in prison on the top charge and two to seven years on the lesser charges.
The 54-year-old defendant and his relatives stared down at the ground as the verdict was pronounced. Some of the accusers' supporters smiled quietly.
The accuser, now 18, told authorities Weberman abused her repeatedly from the time she was 12 until she was 15.
The case was a crash course for jurors about the customs and rules in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, home to about 250,000, the largest community outside Israel. It spotlighted the strict rules that govern the Satmar Hasidic sect.
Weberman is not a licensed counselor, but worked with families within his community for decades. The girl was sent to him because she had been questioning her faith, was dressing immodestly and showing an interest in boys, all violations of the sect's rules.
Prosecutors say Weberman molested the girl for years behind a locked office door. Defense attorneys argued the counselor was the victim of a vindictive child who was angry that he had betrayed her trust when he went to her parents after learning she had a boyfriend.
"When she found out that she had been betrayed, she went wild," defense attorney Stacey Richman said.
The trial has rocked the insular, tight-knit group, not only because of the shocking charges but also because the case was played out in a public court. The guarded society strongly discourages going to outside authorities.
The victim testified that she and her family were harassed and shunned for coming forward; her father lost his business and her nieces were kicked out of school.
During the trial, which began last week, three men were charged with criminal contempt for snapping images of the accuser on the witness stand with cellphone cameras and posting them online. And before the trial began, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes charged other men with trying to bribe the accuser to drop the charges.
The teen testified for three days about the abuse, detailing that Weberman forced her to perform oral sex and act out porn films. She said the abuse lasted from 2007 to 2010. Her family paid him $12,800 in counseling fees during that time, the victim's mother testified Monday.
"I wanted to die rather than live with myself," the accuser testified. "I didn't know how to fight. I was numb."
The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault.
Hasidic Man Found Guilty of Sexually Abusing Young Girl
Rabbinical Council of America on Guilty Verdict of Orthodox Child Molester
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the world’s largest organization of Orthodox rabbis, is encouraged by the process that led to the conviction of Nechemyah Weberman, an Orthodox Jew who acted as an unlicensed counselor and was today found guilty for the sexual molestation of an adolescent girl. For many years the RCA has condemned the efforts of many parts of the Jewish community to cover up or ignore allegations of abuse, viewing these efforts as against Jewish law, illegal, and irresponsible to the welfare of victims and the greater community. The RCA strongly advocates, as a matter of Jewish law, the reporting of reasonable suspicions of child abuse to the civil authorities and full cooperation with the criminal justice system. The RCA decries any invocation of Jewish law or communal interests as tools in silencing victims or witnesses from reporting abuse or from receiving therapeutic and communal support, and strongly condemns those members of the Jewish community who use such tactics.
In light of the issues raised in this trial the RCA commits itself to increasing the training of its members who serve in all areas of the rabbinate, including pulpits, education, chaplaincy, and communal service, to know how to recognize, prevent, and respond appropriately to issues of child abuse. In addition, the RCA will help its members develop policies regarding prevention and response to issues of child abuse in their individual congregations and schools, as well as in their larger communities, and, where nonexistent, to support the creation of response teams that include mental health practitioners, law-enforcement personnel, and specially trained rabbis to respond to allegations of abuse and molestation.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA, stated, “Weberman’s conviction is validation of our commitment to work with law enforcement to protect the innocent victims of our community and to hold their perpetrators accountable.” Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the RCA and founder of JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse Free Environment, added, “We, like other religious communities, have come a long way in recent years in recognizing and addressing issues of child abuse in our communities. We increasingly understand that our religious texts, traditions, and values must serve as resources of strength and support for members of our faith communities, not as roadblocks to their safety and security.”
Examiner - December 11, 2012
Long time chasidic activist Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg was physically assaulted earlier today by a relative of convicted sex offender Baruch Lebovits, who’s conviction was overturned back in April.
According to a reliable source, Rabbi Rosenberg is currently being treated at a hospital emergency room in Brooklyn, after Lebovits’s relative allegedly threw bleach in Rosenberg’s face. Several high ranking chasidic leaders are blaming Rabbi Rosenberg for numerous arrests and convictions of sexual predators living within the Satmar community, including the conviction of Nechemya Weberman earlier this week. Weberman was an unlicensed counselor who sexually assaulted a teenage girl under his care.
This was not the first time that Rabbi Rosenberg was assaulted. Back in 2008 he was stopped on the street several times at knife point while being warned to shut down his hotline in which he provides information in Yiddish regarding how to protect children from sexual predators. It was around this same time he was shot in the head after not obeying the warnings
New York Times - December 11, 2012
The sexual abuse conviction in a State Supreme Court in Brooklyn of a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community sends a strong and overdue message to Williamsburg’s tightly knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, which has shielded such abusers from legal scrutiny.
Hasidic Sex Abuse Victims Advocate Hit With Bleach: Nuchem Rosenberg Hailed the Conviction of Nechemya Weberman
JTA - December 12, 2012
A Hasidic rabbi who advocates for victims of sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community was injured when a chemical was thrown in his face.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg on Tuesday was walking down the street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he lives, when a man approached him from behind, tapped him on his shoulder and then threw a chemical believed to be bleach in his face, according to reports.
Rosenberg, 62, was treated for burns on his face, around his eyes and in his left eye. He is expected to make a full recovery.
“He taps on my shoulder, he says ‘whoops’ and throws it in my face,” Rosenberg told the New York Daily News.
Rosenberg identified the attacker as the son of an accused child sex abuser. He blamed the attack on unrest in the Satmar community over the conviction of Nechemya Weberman on sex charges a day earlier.
“Because of the Weberman case, everything is upside down,” he told the News. “Everybody is crazy.”
The rabbi runs a website and blog for sex-abuse victims, as well as a telephone hot line.
He told New York media that he believes the attack was in retaliation for his support and assistance of the now 18-year-old female victim of Satmar Hasidic leader Weberman, who was convicted on Monday of 59 counts of sexual abuse of the woman when she was between the ages of 12 and 15 and went to him for counseling.
Police have not yet caught the attacker, though they reportedly have identified a suspect.
On Monday, Rosenberg accused another rabbi of abusing young boys in a blog post on his website, according to the New York Post.
Foward - December 14, 2012
This has been the year when the historically opaque veil of secrecy about child sexual abuse has been lifted. Thanks to courageous reporting by our Paul Berger and others in the Jewish and mainstream media, the belated activity of law enforcement officials and, most importantly, the willingness of victims to come forward, Jewish institutions and entire communities are finally confronting the abuse by some and the cover-up by many.
Sadly, there are no geographic boundaries to this story. In February, Berger reported on how a child sexual abuse scandal in Australia was spilling over onto America’s shores. Since then, one convicted sex offender has been extradicted from the United States to Australia.
And as Berger reports in this week’s Forward, two former staff members of Yeshiva University High School for Boys, accused by former students of inappropriate sexual behavior, were allowed to leave without investigation and went on to build lives and careers in Israel.
This is why the denial of such crimes, or the unwillingness on the part of authorities to deal with serious allegations, is so insidious. The cover-up is never as hurtful or damaging as the act itself — it’s rare to find anyone who was victimized as a youngster who is able to forget the pain and humiliation. But when those in authority deny or dismiss such claims, it only opens up the possibility that another person will be hurt. That may sound obvious, but it is routinely ignored.
Or at least has been routinely ignored. Finally, in the Jewish community and beyond, there is a growing recognition that abuse must be confronted, that there cannot be a moral statute of limitations that absolves those in authority of the duty to investigate. Finally, the first, understandable impulse to protect the alleged abuser is being weighed against the imperative to listen to the alleged victim.
Because, while the heinous acts may be sexual in nature, this is really about the abuse of power — the power of a teacher, a priest, a principal or a coach to impose his twisted will on those least able to resist. Occasionally, a brave youngster will be able to come forward to testify, as the young Satmar Hasidic woman did in the trial that recently convicted Nechamya Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, of repeated counts of sexual abuse. But it is unfair and unrealistic to expect violated youngsters to challenge authority voluntarily, without the explicit, genuine support of those in power.
While the Forward’s reporting has focused on abuses within the broad Orthodox community, surely those Jews are no more prone to commit abuse than any other people. The difference is the effective way in which communal norms against challenging authority in that community are enforced, at times with law enforcement apparently turning a blind eye. The prosecution and conviction of Weberman by the Brooklyn district attorney, whose office has been rightly criticized for its tepid pursual of such crimes, signals a new willingness to hold members of the powerful Satmar community to the same standards as other citizens. That is to be applauded.
In his statement to the Forward regarding allegations of abuse by Y.U. high school staff, President Richard Joel said that such behaviors “have no place here, in our community, or anywhere at all.” Let this be the year those words are backed up by true action.
Brooklyn Prosecutors Took Aim at Hasidic Group's Way of Life
By Batya Ungar-Sargon
Forward - December 17, 2012
|Community Pressure: Posters in Brooklyn denounce the accuser of Nechemya Weberman. In their zeal to convict Weberman, did Brooklyn prosecutors tar the entire Satmar community?|
As in any trial, the judge reminded the jurors that the defendant’s guilt must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt.” But with Weberman now facing a possible prison sentence of 25 years or more, it is worth asking what exactly has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and whether it was Weberman’s community as much as his actions — deplorable if true — being judged in the docket with him.
The Brooklyn district attorney’s case hinged exclusively on the credibility of the team’s single witness — the young woman accusing Weberman of sexually abusing her during each of their counseling sessions, which often took place multiple times a week, beginning when she was 12 and ending when she was 15. Though there have been reports of other victims, both from religious support groups for victims as well as from the DA, none have come forward. Weberman has flatly denied the allegations. When asked if he had ever touched his accuser inappropriately, he said, “Never, ever.” Absent DNA evidence, the case is a he said, she said. The verdict hung ultimately on whose testimony the jury found more credible.
Weberman’s defense team questioned the accuser’s credibility by arguing that she had two very strong motives for wanting to harm Weberman. First, the accuser’s sister owed the defendant $35,000, the first $10,000 of which was due six days before she went to the police to report Weberman. And second, Weberman had assisted the accuser’s father in taping her having sex with her 18-year-old boyfriend when she was 15, leading to the boyfriend’s arrest. On the stand, Weberman’s accuser denied that she knew of his involvement in the arrest, stating that she learned of it only this past summer, though Weberman’s name was explicitly stated as an accomplice during her original complaint to the New York City Police Department, two years ago.
The defense team also pointed to discrepancies noted when comparing the accuser’s testimony in court with her conversation with the arresting detective, to whom she made the original complaint. Furthermore, the top two counts for which Weberman was standing trial were on dates of alleged abuse that didn’t match the victim’s statement to the NYPD. For these reasons, Weberman’s attorney argued, none of the evidence against his client is provable beyond reasonable doubt, and the case should be dismissed.
On the other side of the aisle, the DA’s office painted Weberman as a sexual predator with a harem of young girls to satisfy his every sexual need. But their main attempts to discredit him came not from testimonies of other victims, of which there were none, but rather from his shady business dealings and his position in the male-dominated Satmar world. They said he used a credit card belonging to his charity organization to pay tuition for one of his children, and later used the same credit card to purchase lingerie (his wife maintains that the charge was hers; she purchased clothing for a young woman who was the recipient of Weberman’s charity). They mentioned the fact that Weberman allows people to call him “Rebbe” despite not being ordained. They mentioned the fact that he charged a whopping $150 a session for “counseling” despite being unlicensed.
But beyond the connotations and stereotypes suggested by this evidence and certainly reiterated in the media, the DA’s case focused on the rules of the Satmar world; the stringency of the dress code; the suppression of free thought; the laws of yihud, or seclusion, governing women and men’s conduct; the regime of terror that the Va’ad Hatznius, the modesty council, allegedly metes out upon young women; the beit din, or private courts, and most of all, the injunction to maintain an absolute separation of the sexes. An expert was brought in to go over the details of this community’s lifestyle, all of which were portrayed as draconian, misogynistic and enabling of sexual abuse. The clear implication was that the accuser was victimized not only by Weberman, but also by his form of religion.
In this context, the accuser was portrayed as a hero in her attempts to escape from this repressive and alienating environment. Her process toward secularization was represented as emancipation from the world of the defendent toward the world of the jurors. She stood up for herself in school — questioning God and the necessity of modesty laws — becoming an outcast; now she stands up to the accused, who is backed by the Satmar establishment “like a god in Williamsburg,” the accuser said.
But one of the main signs of this secularization was hidden from the jury. The judge didn’t allow the tape showing the accuser having sex with her older boyfriend to be admitted into evidence — an expected but monumental decision, as it turns out. One alternate juror who I spoke with while observing the trial, a Brooklyn resident in his mid-30s, said he was “split down the middle” as to whether he would have convicted. The alternate juror said that seeing a sex tape would definitely have made him question the credibility of the witness. While it would be deeply problematic for a young woman’s testimony to be discounted simply on the grounds of her not being a virgin, or even on the grounds that she might be the only victim, it would be equally problematic for a man to be accused of a crime he might not have committed because a jury had been alienated by his religious choices.
Based on the evidence actually presented in court, only the accuser and accused, and not the jury, can be said to know what happened between them during those sessions, beyond reasonable doubt. The testimonies of those who have heretofore refused to come forward would be required to tip the scales. While the value of using reasonable doubt as a standard for judging criminal acts, especially rape, may be debated, as might the Satmar community’s business dealings and handling of teenage behavior, Weberman was not on trial for his community or his business dealings, though at times this seemed like the DA’s central and more damning argument against him.
Batya Ungar-Sargon is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who teaches at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice
By Naomi Ragen
Jerusalem Post - December 27, 2012
With incredible bravery and tenacity, the victim refused to give up, going on to endure a grueling 15-hour, three-day cross-examination by Weberman’s high-powered legal firm, something prosecutors said they had never, ever seen done to any victim of sexual assault.
Weberman supporters say he was convicted without any DNA evidence, i.e. no Monica Lewinsky blue dress. It was his word against hers.
Obviously, however, the jury believed her, convicting him on all 59 counts, including sustained sex abuse of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. He faces a maximum of 117 years in prison.
SADLY, WEBERMAN’s is not an isolated case. People like him are all over the religious world at every level, possessing the perfect opportunity to exploit their lofty, respected status as spiritual leaders to put themselves beyond suspicion, assured that victims will be too intimidated to come forward.
What is remarkable about the Weberman case is that the victim and her family pursued the case and that the victim received support from the religious community, mostly outside of Satmar, who held public protests against those besmirching her name.
These included Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum himself, one of two Satmar rebbes, who was widely quoted as saying to an overflow crowd of men on a Saturday night: “I was in Williamsburg this Shabbat and saw an entire community saddened by what is going on. It’s a dreadful situation.... A Jewish daughter has descended so low, terrible. Is our sister to be like a whore? ...When they go down, they go down to the ground.”
I was also encouraged by the statement issued about the case by the Rabbinical Council of America, which stated that the RCA “decries any invocation of Jewish law or communal interests as tools in silencing victims or witnesses from reporting abuse or from receiving therapeutic and community support and strongly condemns those members of the Jewish community who use such tactics.”
But while Weberman is behind bars, many are still unnamed and continue to destroy the souls of young boys and girls because of a conspiracy of silence surrounding rabbinical sexual misconduct even in such respected modern Orthodox institutions as Yeshiva University.
The Forward recently published a shocking exposé describing a decades-long cover-up by the YU administration of rabbinical misconduct by two rabbis (both of them now living and working in Israel). Since the article was published, 11 more victims have come forward.
Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel, who was not part of YU when the alleged abuse took place, has been vociferous in his condemnation of such a cover-up: “The actions described represent heinous and inexcusable acts that are antithetical both to Torah values and to everything that Yeshiva University stands for. They have no place here – or anywhere at all.”
The statement goes on to publish a hotline for victims, as well as his own personal phone and email contact information. I find that admirable. But the fact remains that in the past YU ignored victims’ claims and allowed the perpetrators to get off.
The trial of deeply respected rabbinical leader Mordechai Elon on sexual abuse allegations leaves many of us, myself included, conflicted. While in our hearts we would like to see Rav Elon – once one of the most beloved and respected teachers and leaders of modern Orthodoxy in Israel – completely exonerated, on the other hand, his victory would discredit the important and groundbreaking Takana panel set up to hear charges of abuse from victims of sexual assault and which acted in good faith to protect the victims by banning Elon from teaching.
Such an outcome would be a tragedy that would set back the progress made in giving victims a voice, and the community a responsibility to act quickly and resolutely to prevent such tragedies in the future.
WHAT IS undeniably a good thing over which we may all rejoice is that the entire topic of rabbinical sexual abuse has come out of the closet, much the way similar abuses by priests is no longer a dirty little secret.
I hope and pray that Weberman will sit behind bars for many, many years and that the appeal process and some highly-paid legal team (his supporters are allegedly trying to raise a million-dollar defense fund and hire Alan Dershowitz) will not get him off. I hope his punishment will serve as an encouragement for more victims to come forward, and as a deterrent to those in the religious world who have motive, opportunity and the feeling that their pious act and high-up friends will shield them from the law if they choose to unleash their sexual desires, thereby destroying the lives and souls of the young people in their care.
I hope it will empower really pious religious leaders to strongly and publicly support victims, and convince parents and educators to listen, and act. Most of all, I hope it will help to eradicate the wall of silence that has the religious world bending to intimidation from within and from without about sexual predators in its midst.
As the brave victim of Nechemya Weberman who brought down Satmar’s veil of secrecy was quoted as saying: “I am doing this so that no other young person will suffer what I did.”
God willing, may that be true.
By Ezra Friedlander
Forward - December 30, 2012
After the verdict in the infamous Nechemya Weberman trial was announced, the Satmar community found itself reeling. This story of an unlicensed therapist who for years was sexually abusing a young girl multiple times a week has inflamed our passions to unprecedented levels, and rightfully so. But now that the dust has settled somewhat, it’s time for some personal introspection.
This was brought home to me, a Hasidic Jew who lives in Borough Park, just as the trial ended when I met someone who confided that his daughter’s best friend was also abused by this very same perpetrator. Stunned, I asked him if anyone else knows about this. “No,” he answered. “And that’s how it should remain.”
Who knows how many other young children are living among us, playing, learning, studying, sitting at the Sabbath table, and yet hiding a deep, dark and terrifying secret in their hearts? Who knows how many shattered lives walk among us? Those who come forward are indisputably courageous and bold. But instead of being embraced by our community as heroes, they are shunned and terrorized. The victims are being treated as though they were at fault. Why?
We need to have an honest conversation. The Weberman trial, for all practical purposes, has brought to light a painful issue with which our community is reluctant to deal. For many of us, it’s just too difficult to digest the truth about this case. As a parent of two young children, one of whom is now in kindergarten, I am personally horrified. I simply cannot fathom how vulnerable my child, or anyone’s child, can be and how devastating it would be if any harm would befall him.
To be fair, our community has so much to be proud of. We are second to none in every category of chesed — kindness — and caring. Our record of achievement in terms of aiding the poor, the ill, the suffering and the lonely is outstanding. We were the envy of the rest of society when our people joined forces en masse to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We showed compassion and caring to Jew and non-Jew alike. So why is it that in the area of protecting our children from predators, we have failed so miserably?
Perhaps this is why this case baffles me so.
We have built an infrastructure that successfully weeds out any negative elements that could harm our children, our families and our community. We do everything possible to shelter our young ones from foreign influences. Yet in this one area, we have chosen to look the other way and to neglect our communal responsibility. Instead, we have preferred to remain passive in the face of this obvious aggression, even though it severely affects the sanctity of our precious children. It just doesn’t make sense.
There are those among us who choose to defend the accused simply because their natural inclination cannot accept the fact that these things have happened. There are those who are simply too mortified to accept that this epidemic exists. I understand their feelings; I, too, am horrified beyond words.
The world is watching us, make no mistake about it. As someone who is engaged in the world of public relations and public opinion, I am sensing that the collateral damage of this trial has substantially affected the Orthodox Jewish community. And believe me when I tell you — public opinion matters.
Even Moses understood this. When Hashem chose him to advocate on behalf of klal yisroel, all of Israel, before Pharaoh, his response was that he was ”aral sefosayim” — meaning that he had a speech impediment. Moses recognized the significance of advocating for the Jewish people and knew that their case must be presented carefully and with clarity. Even in biblical times, public opinion mattered.
In modern-day warfare, battles are raged, lives are lost and territories are conquered. But the barometer of victory and defeat is not necessarily measured by the number of casualties or the land gained; it is measured more by the indiscriminate judgment of world opinion. The winner is the one who has gathered more positive comments on websites and social media and has conquered people’s hearts.
Be that as it may, the news media must also bear some responsibility for fanning the flames during the current fiasco. Quick to paint our entire community with a broad brush of defamation, they eagerly pounce on every story of an Orthodox Jew who is being investigated for any reason. The general tendency is to publish a large photo that plainly identifies the individual as a member of our community, coupled with an insulting headline. More often than not, they randomly choose to classify him as a “rabbi” or “community leader.”
The repercussions to our community are very real. I am sensing a distancing from elected officials and others — people who have been sympathetic to our needs in the past. There is a sense among them that no one at the top is addressing this crisis satisfactorily. People have called me aside and asked me off the record why our leaders aren’t dealing with this issue. They can’t understand how circumstances could have allowed a perpetrator to spend so many unsupervised hours alone with his victim. “Is that allowed?” they ask me. “Isn’t this against your rules?”
I fear that they are correct.
I am calling for a Marshall Plan, a total overhaul of the system similar to the one that re-created the infrastructure of the European continent after World War II. It is time for us to rebuild our own infrastructure. It is time to gather together all yeshivas and educational institutions to implement a new series of policies and procedures that can deal with these issues in a practical yet effective manner. Simple changes like windows in every classroom, audio and video surveillance, and licensed counselors and social workers are just some of the improvements that could be made.
All these changes should be administered under the haskama, a letter of approbation, and supervision of our Torah leaders. Procedures should be put in place that would protect both the victim and the accused in the event that false allegations are ever presented. And precisely those among us who are convinced that Weberman is innocent should be paving the way in implementing these changes. If this is not a wake-up call for our community, then what is? It will be costly, for sure. But it can be done. We have the resources to build magnificent buildings for our communal institutions. What good are they if we cannot protect our children from what may be happening in these very same buildings?
It is ironic that precisely our very own community, known for our trailblazing efforts to protect our children, is coming under fire for our meek response to this devastating crisis. We have managed to raise families largely unaware of the vulgarity of the world at large and the threats to our cherished traditions. Yet we can’t seem to take the necessary steps to safeguard our children from the villains in our very own midst.
I sincerely hope that recent events will force us to make the necessary changes. I pray that the outcry will finally come forth. But so far, the silence is deafening.
Ezra Friedlander is CEO of The Friedlander Group, a public affairs and government relations company based in New York City and in Washington.
Satmar Hasidic counselor Nechemya Weberman gets 103 years for sexually abusing teen girl
By Oren Yaniv and Larry McShane
New York Daily News - January 22, 2013
An expressionless Nechemya Weberman, 54, said nothing as the stunning jail term was handed down once his victim finished her heart-wrenching statement inside a Brooklyn courtroom.
“I remember how I would look in the mirror,” the victim recounted as her tormentor sat with his eyes closed. “I saw a girl who didn’t want to live in her own skin. A girl whose innocence was shattered at age 12.
“A sad girl who wanted to live a normal life, but instead was being victimized by a 50-year-old man who forced her to perform sickening acts again and again.”
The sentence is a virtual life term for Weberman, who would be 107 years old before coming up for parole.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said Weberman’s conviction was only possible with “the courage of a young woman.”
The victim, subjected to repeated sexual assaults between 2007 and 2010, spent four days on the witness stand being grilled about the depraved attacks that left her suicidal.
“It takes years and years to heal,” said the victim, who sat in the front row of the courtroom with her husband. “In some ways, it’s much worse than murder. The abused experience the past over and over again.”
The first incident of abuse came when she was just 12 years old.
Weberman, who served as a counselor for members of the ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect, was convicted last month on 59 counts of abuse for the repeated attacks inside his locked office.
The victim said she was forced to perform oral sex and act out scenes from pornographic movies up to four times a week when she met with Weberman for counseling.
The victim, now 18, went to authorities in February 2011 to detail the abuse. The Daily News reported that Webermman may have violated at least 10 other victims — including married women who came to him for counseling.
Weberman, who did not speak at the sentencing, was sent to Rikers Island without bail after his conviction. He faced a maximum sentence of 117 years behind bars.
His attorney, George Farkas, said Weberman maintains his innocence and questioned the lengthy jail term.
“Retribution has no place in sentencing,” he said.
By Sharon Otterman
New York Times - January 22, 2013
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