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Nechemya Weberman sex abuse scandal

Satmar Hasidic counselor Nechemya Weberman was sentenced to 103 years in prison for the repeated sexual abuse of a teenage girl.

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BROOKLYN, New York (PIX11) — With her voice quivering and her slender body shaking, an Orthodox Jewish teen repeatedly violated and sexually tormented by her community counselor in Williamsburg, starting when she was just 12, bravely asked a judge  to bring this “monstrous perpetrator” to justice.

Judge John Ingram did not fail her, sentencing 54 year old Nechemya Weberman–a father of 10– to 103 years in state prison, noting of the beautiful, blonde victim “Her youth was taken away from her.”

Nechemya Weberman

Nechemya Weberman at his sentencing Tuesday

The victim, now 18, stood just six feet from her convicted molester, as she emotionally recounted three years of being forced to perform sexually deviant acts in the counselor’s home office, which had 3 locks on the door. The girl was ordered into therapy in 6th grade, when she dared to question the strict dress code of the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg.

Her parents paid Weberman $150 a session, and the girl testified instead of counseling her, he forced her to perform oral sex the first time she sought treatment.

Nechemya Weberman

54-year-old Nechemya Weberman leaves court after his sentencing Tuesday.

The molestation escalated to include Weberman’s attempts at intercourse, the girl had testified.  She often attended counseling three days a week.

In a packed courtroom, the teen emotionally told the judge about the toll the abuse took on her:

“I think back to the years of my ordeal,” she said. “I saw a girl who didn’t want to live in her own skin, a girl who couldn’t sleep at night….when images of the gruesome invasion of her body kept playing in her head….performing sickening acts for his sick sense of pleasure.”

The girl had testified that Weberman had forced her to watch porn in his office and then copy what she’d seen on screen during their sessions.

The victim was not permitted to testify about one, specific form of sexual torture she attributed to Weberman and his porn fetish: his use of a lighter to drip burning fluid on her stomach, which left her with scars.  But she referenced that activity on Tuesday during sentencing.

The teen said “I feel the outcome of abuse is far worse than murder,” shortly after she had cried, as she demanded to know why Weberman won’t admit his crimes.

“How were you able to deny the abuse all these years?” the teen asked.  The girl noted other abused teens were afraid to come forward, adding “You treated us like toys that were yours to abuse.”

“Unfortunately, the others would not come forward,” she said. “But we were all one voice and they were with me in spirit.”

Assistant District Attorney, Kevin O’Donnell, pointed out to the court the severe repercussions suffered by the girl’s family, when they went to police instead of rabbinical authorities:  “She was treated like a piece of dirt, while the defendant was treated like a god.”

Judge John Ingram

Judge John Ingram said of the beautiful, blonde victim: “Her youth was taken away from her.”

Weberman received dozens of letters of support from his family and community members hoping the judge would be lenient. But the prosecutor observed, “Doing good deeds and being a child molester are not mutually exclusive.”

Weberman’s defense attorney, George Farkas–who plans to appeal the conviction–told the court: “Nechemya Weberman is innocent of the crimes charged.”

When Weberman,  who unsuccessfully took the stand in his own defense, was given a chance to address the judge, he said just three words: “No, thank you.”

Judge Ingram noted how witnesses had been intimidated in this case and said, “This cannot be tolerated in a free society.”  He urged victims of abuse to report the crimes “to stop the sex predators.”

When Ingram sentenced Weberman to 103 years in prison–out of a possible 117 years he faced–the teen girl wept from a front row seat in the courtroom, her new husband by her side. The teen married several months before the trial began.

Her husband, Boorey D — who once owned a cafe in Williamsburg — told PIX11 News he was put out of business by Weberman’s Orthodox supporters, who took away his Kosher certification.

When PIX 11 asked Boorey how nervous his young wife was, before making her victim impact statement, he said: “Trust me, we didn’t sleep nights for this statement!  She’s brave. I respect her for everything she’s done.”

Nechemya Weberman was taken away in handcuffs, back to his prison cell.

The teen girl who faced him down in court will be resuming college classes–and working hard to put the ordeal behind her.

The girl’s family, meantime, has fled their home in Williamsburg, fearing community retaliation — because of the lengthy sentence Weberman received.

There’s been an arrest in the chemical attack on a rabbi who advocates for sex abuse victims.

PIX11 first told you about the attack on rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg yesterday — Mei-lech Schnitzler has been charged with assault and menacing for allegedly throwing bleach on the rabbi in Williamsburg yesterday afternoon.

Rabbi-Nachum-Rosenberg-file

Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg

“He takes a full cup of bleach and he spilled it onto me. Half of my face is burned, and my left eye, I can’t see right out of it. I see everything very faded.”

The attack happened one day after a jury convicted a prominent Satmar Hasidic man, Nechemya Weberman, of repeatedly molesting a student in the community, starting when she was just 12 years old. Weberman, an unlicensed counselor, faces up to 117 years in prison, when he’s sentenced next month.  Many Hasidic men in the community raised money for his defense.

The trial exposed secrets about the alleged Satmar Hasidic “modesty squads” that allegedly raid the homes of girls and families that don’t follow the strict rules of the Hasidic community.

Rosenberg told detectives from Brooklyn’s 90th Precinct he was attacked by a relative of the fish store owner on Roebling Street.  After the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, Rosenberg wrote on his blog the fish store owner would be the next man arrested by police, writing cheekily the man should get his bags packed.  When PIX 11 went inside the store Tuesday afternoon, no owner was present, just several workers who said they didn’t speak English.

Detectives took Rosenberg’s black jacket and pants—typical of those worn by Satmar Hasidic men—as forensic evidence in the case.  The rabbi left the hospital wearing scrubs, because his clothing was taken by the police.

(Brooklyn, New York) – A Brooklyn rabbi who writes a blog about sex abuse within the insular, Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg told PIX 11 he had bleach thrown in his face by another Hasidic man Tuesday.

Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg told PIX11 he was walking down Roebling Street, when a man with a beard and black coat ran across from a fish store and confronted him.

“He takes a full cup of bleach and he spilled it onto me. Half of my face is burned, and my left eye, I can’t see right out of it. I see everything very faded.”

The attack happened one day after a jury convicted a prominent Satmar Hasidic man, Nechemya Weberman, of repeatedly molesting a student in the community, starting when she was just 12 years old. Weberman, an unlicensed counselor, faces up to 117 years in prison, when he’s sentenced next month.  Many Hasidic men in the community raised money for his defense.

The trial exposed secrets about the alleged Satmar Hasidic “modesty squads” that allegedly raid the homes of girls and families that don’t follow the strict rules of the Hasidic community.

Rosenberg told detectives from Brooklyn’s 90th Precinct he was attacked by a relative of the fish store owner on Roebling Street.  After the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, Rosenberg wrote on his blog the fish store owner would be the next man arrested by police, writing cheekily the man should get his bags packed.  When PIX 11 went inside the store Tuesday afternoon, no owner was present, just several workers who said they didn’t speak English.

Detectives took Rosenberg’s black jacket and pants—typical of those worn by Satmar Hasidic men—as forensic evidence in the case.  The rabbi left the hospital wearing scrubs, because his clothing was taken by the police.  Rosenberg’s son dropped him off at the 90th Precinct, where he was expected to view line-ups of potential suspects.

Rabbi-Nachum-Rosenberg-file

Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg during a 2010 interview with PIX11 News. (January 20, 2010)

BROOKLYN (PIX11) –  The Orthodox Jewish student who was just 12 when an unlicensed counselor started forcing sex on her cried—and laughed–after Nechemya Weberman’s conviction Monday afternoon.

“I can finally have a real smile on my face,” the victim, who’s now 18 and a newlywed, told her husband.  Weberman, a 54-year old father of ten, faces up to 117 years in prison, when he’s sentenced next month.  The jury arrived at a quick verdict, believing the victim’s story that the abuse continued for three years in the counselor’s home office, which had three locks on the door.

25-year-old Boorey D,  who married the victim just two months ago in a traditional, Jewish wedding, told PIX 11 his wife was not allowed to testify about everything that happened to her.

Capture“She felt like a sex slave to him, because he showed her porn and said, ‘Do this to me,’” Boorey D told PIX 11.  Weberman was convicted on 59 counts, including a top charge of criminal course of sexual conduct against a minor.

The girl’s mother told PIX 11 last week that Weberman used a lighter to pour liquid on the girl’s body, in a bizarre sex ritual, but the jury was not permitted to hear about this.  The teen’s husband elaborated to PIX 11: “The lighter would start dripping gas on top of her stomach, and it would burn.  She was crying out in pain, and he said ‘put peanut butter on it, it’s going to go away.’”

The victim was  in sixth grade at the Bais Ruchel Satmar school in Williamsburg in 2007, when she got into trouble for asking questions about God and the thick tights Satmar Hasidic girls are required to wear.

That’s when the school principal told the family she would need to get counseling.  The family selected Nechemya Weberman, who was a prominent figure in the Satmar community.

The parents paid Weberman $150 an hour to counsel their daughter, but the girl testified the sexual abuse started immediately, from the first session.  When she protested the way Weberman was touching her, he told her there was nothing wrong, she testified.

Pretty soon, the sessions included oral sex two or three times a week.  Once, when the girl tried to stop counseling, she testified Weberman showed up at her bedroom at home and started abusing her there, undressing her and trying to have intercourse with her.   The girl said she had stayed in bed for three days, not eating, and suffering from depression.

“I wanted to die,” she testified.

The victim’s husband said he was forced out of business in Williamsburg this past July, after the girl’s family refused to accept a half million dollar bribe to drop the case.

The teen said on the stand she went forward with the case, because she didn’t want other girls to go through what she went through.  But her husband notes she also wants Weberman to know what it’s like to be helpless.  “Now he can feel what a victim feels like, when a 350 pound guy steps onto him in jail and holds him down to the floor and he can’t move, can’t do anything,” Boorey D said.

Boorey D praised his wife for her courage. “She used her voice to save other victims.  She hopes this gave them a push to go forward.”

BROOKLYN (PIX11) -After an explosive 2-week trial, a prominent Orthodox Jewish counselor was found guilty Monday of repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl he was hired to counsel.

The Brooklyn jury found Nechemya Weberman guilty on all 59 counts including the top count of prolonged sexual conduct against a child which carries a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Weberman, 54, was accused of sexually abusing the then-12-year-old girl on several occasions over a period of 3 years.

The victim who is now 18-years-old, testified during the trial, claiming that the respected rabbi started undressing her and asking for oral sex in his home office in Williamsburg during counseling sessions.

She claimed the abuse went on for three years and escalated to include a form of sexual intercourse.rabbi-guilty

Emotions run high as new witnesses take the stand in sex abuse caseBROOKLYN (PIX11) – An alternate juror dismissed from service in the molestation trial of 54-year old Nechemya Weberman told PIX 11 Friday convicting the former counselor could be difficult, because there’s “no concrete evidence.”

The former juror, a white man in his 30’s who didn’t want to be identified, said he found the 17-year old witness “credible” when she took the stand and said Weberman had sexually abused her from age 12 through 15.  But the alternate said the case is a tough one, without forensic evidence.

The jury of eight women and four men started deliberating the case against Weberman Friday.  The counselor is a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, who even had supporters hold a fundraiser for his legal expenses  earlier this year.

Weberman took the witness stand in his own defense this week, saying he “never ever” touched the girl, who was sent to him for counseling, because she questioned the strict  rules of Hasidic culture at her school.

The accuser, now 18, testified in graphic detail last week that she had no idea was sex was, when she first went to a counseling session in Weberman’s home office in 2007.  She told the jury she performed oral sex on Weberman that first visit and, over the years, the abuse escalated to include some sexual intercourse.

At one point, the girl’s mother, Rachel K, testified she had protested when Weberman took her 12 year old daughter on a twelve hour trip upstate.  Rachel K said Weberman threatened to stop working with the girl, so the mother wrote a letter of apology.   The family paid Weberman $150 an hour for his services.

The jury was told not to consider testimony that Weberman took money from his not-for-profit organization to pay for his son’s tuition and lingerie.

Another young woman testified this week that she used to live in Weberman’s home office but didn’t rec all the office door having three locks on it.

The accuser testified Weberman forced her to watch pornographic videos on his computer.  Her aunts claimed to reporters in the court hallway that Weberman used to drip wax on the girl’s body, resulting in some burns.

The judge reduced the number of criminal counts the jury will consider against Weberman from 88 to 60.  At day’s end Friday, the jury requested a readback of testimony from the female social worker who testified the girl revealed the sexual abuse to her in February 2011.

An NYPD detective who interviewed the girl initially in the Special Victims’ Squad was faulted by the alternate juror for his handling of the case.

Deliberations resume on Monday.

(Brooklyn, New York)  — The anguished mother of an Orthodox Jewish girl who’s accused her former counselor of repeated molestation spoke exclusively to PIX 11, as the case got set to go to the jury.

“I cry. I want to kill myself,” Rachel K. told PIX 11, “how can I be so blind?”

The youngest of Rachel K’s seven children testified before a Brooklyn jury last week that counselor Nechemya Weberman, a father of ten, started undressing her and asking for oral sex in his home office in Williamsburg, beginning when she was just 12 years old.  She claimed the abuse went on for three years and escalated to include a form of sexual intercourse.

The principal at the girl’s school in Williamsburg had received word that she wasn’t dressing modestly enough, complaining about the thick tights Satmar Hasidic girls are required to wear. Her parents chose Weberman, the principal’s cousin, to work with the pre-teen, so she wouldn’t be expelled ftom Bais Rachel School, part of the United Talmudical Academy.

The girl’s family said it paid Weberman $150 an hour, but Rachel K. balked when Weberman took the 12 year old on an all-day trip upstate. When the mom expressed concern, she told PIX Weberman threatened to stop working with the child. “So then I said okay, I’ll write him an apology letter.”

The defense and prosecution teams presented closing arguments Thursday, in a case that blew the lid open on dealings in the insular, Satmar Hasidic community.

The defense said the accuser, now 18, had motives to lie. Sandra Richman, who handled summations for the defense, said the girl fell in love with an older teen and blamed Weberman and her father for the boy’s later arrest on statutory rape charges.  There was also a business dispute involving Weberman and the girl’s sister.

Richman pointed out the prosecution didn’t even put the NYPD detective who handled the initial case on the witness stand and didn’t offer proof that Weberman made the girl watch pornographic movies. “There’s no forensic examination of any computer,” Richman said. “There’s no looking for blood, semen or saliva. And hey, we’ve all seen CSI (referring to the TV show). DNA lasts forever.”

Richman noted the girl had always been a vocal student who never hesitated to speak her mind. “This is a girl who never had a problem complaining about anything she didn’t like….this is not someone that’s going to let someone touch her and not say anything.”

One of the accuser’s aunts, Goldy Gold, said she, too, was molested by a religious figure in the community, when she was only 11 years old, but that she kept going back to see the man “because he was nice.” She explained that Satmar girls are never told anything about sex, until a week before their arranged marriages.  Gold said of her niece’s testimony, “What happened to me never came out. She’s liberating me from my trauma.”

The prosecution presented closing arguments Thursday afternoon, reminding the jury about a frmake counselor who testified the girl was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Prosecutors noted that Weberman had three locks on the door of his home office and that other, troubled girls even lived in the office. “The defendant  is anything but a pious man,” the District Attorney’s office said. “He gained her trust and he abused the relationship, kissing her, undressing her … and when she asked him to stop, he said I’m not doing anything wrong.”

The accuser is now 17. Her mother Rachel said Thursday that by coming forward, “It’s like she broke a world record.”

The jury gets the case Friday morning and will consider 88 criminal counts against Weberman that stretch over a three year period.

(Brooklyn, New York) Orthodox Jewish women hissed from the back of the courtroom, as the first defense witness took the stand in the case of a 54-year old counselor charged with sexually abusing a young student in Williamsburg, starting in early 2008, when she was just 12.

“May you stumble on your words, with a pox on your head,” seethed one woman from the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg, where the young accuser once attended school.   One of the supervising principals of Bais Rachel School, BenZion Feurewerger, testified that the girl–in 6th grade–started dressing immodestly.

The girl, now 17, was ultimately sent for counseling and testified last week that Nechemya Weberman turned therapy sessions in his home office into opportunities to sexually molest her, over a three year period.

Rabbi Feurewerger acknowledged that the girl got good grades in school. Among her offenses:  not buttoning the top button on a blouse and asking questions about the thick tights ultra-Orthodox Hasidic girls are required to wear.   “She has to follow the rules: dress like everybody and behave like everybody,” the principal testified.

Outside court, the accuser’s cousin, Miriam Schwartz, responded to the teenager being called a “whore” by an upstate Hasidic grand rebbe. “They just don’t want to believe it, so it’s just a way of putting down the victim,” Schwartz said.  The teen testified that she believed her father and Weberman acted together to have a former boyfriend arrested for statutory rape. The charges were later dropped.

Some Orthodox Jewish men who support the accuser laughed in the back of the courtroom, when the principal denied there was a “modesty committee” in Williamsburg that forces women to stay in line with the strict rules of their community.

The defendant, Nechemya Weberman, is expected on the witness stand at some point on Wednesday.

The teen’s supporters were planning a rally in Williamsburg Tuesday night, to denounce witness intimidation in this case. The teen’s photo was even snapped on the witness stand and posted online.

Abe Rubinstein, whose son testified against a different Orthodox man last year, told PIX 11: “We know what’s going on behind the scenes in the community. Rabbis are molesting kids in the community and the kids are afraid to come out.”

BROOKLYN, NY (PIX11) — An Orthodox Jewish teen finished four days of testimony Friday in the sex molestation case against her former counselor, a day after an angry judge lashed out at spectators who were taking cell phone pictures in court—and posting them on the web.

The 17 year old girl—who testified she was just 12, when Nechemya Weberman started forcing her to perform oral sex in his office, during counseling sessions, told prosecutors why she decided to press charges, despite intimidation from her Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg.  “I felt like I had a responsibility,” the thin, blonde-haired teen said, “If I didn’t stop him, he would continue doing it to other people. I didn’t want other girls to go through what I went through.”

Judge John Ingram was furious on Thursday, when he learned courtroom photos of the teen’s testimony were turning up on the Internet.  Four spectators, carrying a combined nine cell phones, had their phones confiscated.  The judge told them, “This is not some sporting event where people can bring their phones to take photos. It is against the law.”  The judge continued, “This is on the Internet now.  It’s probably streamed all over the world.”

ORTHODOX SEX ABUSE

An angry judge lashed out at spectators who were taking cell phone pictures in court—and posting them on the web.

The Weberman case gained notoriety earlier this year, when fundraising posters for his criminal defense started appearing in Williamsburg.  Then, in June, four, Orthodox Jewish men from the Satmar community were arrested, accused of trying to bribe the woman’s family to drop the case, in exchange for half a million dollars.

The teen’s uncle, Ari Rubenstein, spoke to PIX 11 Friday.  “She’s going to save a lot of kids in our community,” Rubenstein said.  “The fact the community is intimidating people, all it does is tell the molesters, ‘I’m protected.’”  Rubenstein went on to say, however, that his niece is gaining support from as far away as Australia and Israel.  But he said local Orthodox Jews who dare to go to court face repercussions.  “A woman sitting in court, here to support the victim, that same day her husband got a call,” Rubenstein told PIX.  “He was going to lose his job.”

A  couple of representatives from N.O.W.—the National Organization for Women—turned up in court Friday.  “We are outraged, absolutely outraged, about what took place in this courtroom,” Sonia Ossorio of N.O.W. told PIX 11.  She added the women’s rights group is concerned about the oppressive world that females live under, in ultra-Orthodox religious communities.

The young accuser in this case testified in graphic detail, earlier this week, about three years of sexual molestation that began with oral sex and escalated to intercourse.  “She didn’t even know what sex was all about,” her uncle said.

Weberman has pleaded “not guilty” and defense attorneys are trying to show the teen’s memory is spotty, also suggesting her sister had business dealings with Weberman that went bad.

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.”

Nechemya Weberman, director of a group called Vaad Hatznius, is accused of sexually violating a girl starting when she was 12.

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 P IX 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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