Tuesday, November 27, 2012
A young woman faced a prominent member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community whom she accuses of molesting her as a child.
The tightly knit Hasidic community is now bitterly divided over this case.
Prosecutors say Nechemya Weberman victimized the girl for three years, beginning when she was 12.
It allegedly took place an office next door to his Williamsburg apartment, where she claims Weberman undressed her, sexually abused her and forced her to perform oral sex.
“Saying ‘stop’ didn't seem to work,” she told the jury, “I froze. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to respond, I didn’t know how to fight back. My whole body went numb.”
Weberman is a prominent member of Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Satmar community.
He was hired by the girl’s family to counsel their rebellious daughter.
They met for four hours a day and as many as four times a week.
“He said, ‘I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not doing anything you don’t want me to do,’” she said. Yet she told no one for years.
“Why not?” asked the prosecutor.
“I was scared,” she answered.
Many in the community support Weberman and raised money for his defense.
They insist he’s being framed by a girl who despises ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
Her supporters say that’s outrageous.
“She should be treated as a heroine!” said Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, the alleged victim’s supporter.
Accuser: Man Who Was Supposed To Be Counselor, Molested Me For 3 Years
November 27, 2012 7:27 PM
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teen alleging a prominent member of Brooklyn’s Satmar community sexually abused her over three years took the stand Tuesday to describe her alleged ordeal.
In a quiet, controlled voice, the now-married 17-year-old said she endured years of abuse at the hands of 54-year-old Nechemya Weberman.
The teen’s father had taken her to Weberman for counseling because he thought she had a boyfriend, which was prohibited in the community, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
However, the teen claimed the counseling turned into undressing, touching and other sexual contact.
The teen told a packed courtroom that from her first meeting with Weberman in an office next to his Clinton Hill apartment, the much-respected Orthodox Jewish leader sexually abused her.
“He proceeded to kiss me. He touched me…I yelled for him to stop. He said, ‘You see, if you yell stop, I stop. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not doing anything you don’t want me to do,’” the victim said Tuesday.
But moments later, she said Weberman continued to molest her.
“Saying stop didn’t seem to work….I didn’t know how to fight back. I was numb,” the teen said.
In fact, she said it happened every time they met from 2007 — when she was 12 — through 2010.
The accuser said that Weberman would triple lock his door before the abuse, which allegedly took place twice a week for the three years.
At one point, the teen said she stopped eating for three days. The accuser said she was so depressed she couldn’t even talk to Weberman.
The teen also described another incident in which she claimed Weberman came to her home.
“He got into bed with me and I wanted to die,” the teen stated in court.
She said she eventually was able to tell a school counselor what was taking place.
Most of the packed courtroom was made up of the accuser’s supporters, including her aunt and uncle.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have your abuser face justice,” Ari Rubenstein, the alleged victim’s uncle, told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.
“I’m really proud of her. I really am,” said the alleged victim’s aunt, Gitty Goldman.
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, who heads “Project Y.E.S.,” which looks to challenge those who punish Orthodox members who report abuse to civil authorities, said many are supporting the young woman.
“There are thousands and thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews worldwide who are standing with her,” Horowitz said.
Weberman has pleaded not guilty to charges of committing a criminal sex act, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse.
Lawyers for Weberman have argued that the allegations being brought against their client are false.
“This is a case that is going to be tried in that courtroom. It will be no-holds barred. Everything is going to come out,” said defense attorney George Farkas.
Weberman is expected to testify in his own defense later in the week.
Earlier this year, a controversial fundraiser was held in the Hasidic community to raise Weberman’s legal funds. However, on Tuesday, Weberman’s only visible support were his sisters and lawyers.
pix11.com | @murphypix
7:13 p.m. EST, November 27, 2012
BROOKLYN, NY (PIX11)—
A 17-year-old girl who was raised in Williamsburg’s Satmar Hasidic community testified in criminal court Tuesday that an older man who was supposed to counsel her instead sexually violated her, starting when she was just 12 years old.
The thin, blonde-haired witness pointed the finger at 54 year old Nechemya Weberman, director of a group called Vaad Hatznius, translated from Yiddish to mean “the modesty squad.” It turns out Weberman was never even licensed to work as a child counselor.
The teen said she started getting in trouble in school in 6th grade, because she questioned the strict codes imposed by leaders of the Satmar Hasidic Orthodox sect in Williamsburg..A family friend, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, told PIX 11 outside court, “She wasn’t being rebellious….just an inquisitive, out-of-the-box thinker.”
The accuser’s school, the United Talmudical Academy, suggested she get counseling. The girl testified that from the first session, Weberman made sexual overtures, beginning with requests for oral sex.
She said the abuse escalated, with Weberman touching her breasts and vagina.
At one point in the testimony, the teenager struggled to relay an alleged incident that she said happened in the spring of 2009, when she was 14. The girl said she hadn’t left her room in days, because she was despondent. Her mother was away on vacation, and her father told her by intercom system that he was going out. Soon, the teen testified, Weberman appeared in her bedroom.
“I was very depressed and wearing pajamas,” the girl recalled on the stand. “He started undressing me and asked why I didn’t want to see him anymore.” The girl then graphically explained her recall of what happened next..“He put his penis on my vagina and it went in a little bit. “Did you say stop?, the prosecutor asked..“No, I didn’t have the strength. I wasn’t eating for three days. I wanted to die.”
The girl testified in February 2011 she finally told a female counselor affiliated with another organization about the abuse, and this woman brought her to the police to report Weberman. The counselor was arrested the same day.
The victim said the abuse lasted for three years, from the time she was 12 until she was 15. She then met a boyfriend, whom she recently married several months ago.
A number of the teen’s friends from an alternative religious school turned up in court to offer support. One told PIX 11 she was 14, when she was abused by a 24 year old man. “I didn’t report it,” the 18 year old, known as C.B., told PIX 11. Would you report it now, we asked. “Honestly, no,” the young woman said. “I wish I had the strength she did.”
Another friend of the accuser, 18-year-old Debra, said she was just 14 years old when her grandfather, who’s 50 years older than her, started sexually abusing her. Did you ask why he was doing this, PIX 11 asked. “His excuse was ‘I love you,’” Debra replied.
A 32-year-old man named Joey Diangello told PIX 11 Weberman once worked for his family. Diangello was interviewed by PIX 11 in 2009, for a special report on sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, and revealed to us he was raped in a mikvah bath in Williamsburg, by an unknown man, when he was just 7 years old. He remains haunted by the sexual assault and said he always felt uncomfortable around Weberman as a child, starting when he was 10. “I sat down on his lap, which was very inappropriate that I was sitting on his lap, and I felt an erection,” Diangello said. “Being a survivor of rape, I knew what that was, and it scared the hell out of me.”
Weberman’s defense attorney, George Farkas, told PIX 11, “This case will not be tried outside the courtroom. We are going to bring everything out.”
During cross-examination Tuesday afternoon, the defense team got the accuser to admit she developed an intense hatred for her religion—and certain members of her community.
The defense will try to prove there was a motive for her allegations against Weberman.
The case initially gained notoriety, after large sectors of the Williamsburg community joined together for a fundraiser… to get cash for Weberman’s criminal defense costs.
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