Hasidic Man Denies Abuse of Young Girl He Counseled

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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.


“What were you looking to do in terms of her?” asked Michael Farkas, a defense attorney, as Mr. Weberman testified in his own defense.

“To save her life,” Mr. Weberman said.

He spoke on the concluding day of witness testimony in a closely watched trial in State Supreme Court; it is one of the first times a prominent member of the insular Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg has faced child sexual abuse charges before a secular court. Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday.

The unusual decision by Mr. Weberman, 54, to take the stand in his own defense turned the trial into a credibility battle between Mr. Weberman and the accusing witness, an 18-year-old who claimed over four days of testimony last week that she had been forced to perform oral sex on him during counseling sessions, when she was between the ages of 12 and 15.

Dressed in the traditional long black coat and white shirt of the Satmar Hasidim, Mr. Weberman testified that he had first begun counseling his accuser in 2008, not in 2007, as she had claimed. He testified that he billed $150 an hour to see her, and also charged her family $1,500 for a trip upstate that he took alone with her. He denied that anything untoward had happened.

He based his testimony on work records, but under further questioning from prosecutors, Mr. Weberman admitted that he did not always record his meetings with clients. Mr. Weberman also admitted in court that he had used the finances of a nonprofit corporation he runs to help the poor, called the Congregation of Classon, to pay private school tuition bills for his children. Lingerie purchases were also billed to its accounts, prosecutors said.

“Maybe it did,” pay for lingerie, Mr. Weberman said of the foundation, “for certain individuals. I don’t know.”

Written By: Sharon Otterman
continue to source article at nytimes.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is the start. It will take a long time to crack through the walls, but the same was said about the Catholic Church and the priest scandals. Because I think it’s basic human nature to not understand that it’s rarely the crime that gets you, it’s the cover up.

  2. This is one of those times that I have to tackle my own personal prejudices and act as a rational person would. My first thought was ‘Great, different cretins, same abuse.’ – but that’s unworthy of the rationality I aspire to and a failing of the standards I set for myself. That other religious people abuse their position (and incidentally, their charges) does not mean this individual has. That I may strongly disagree with his religious views (including the way the community he’s part of behaves) and that he used money from the charity to pay his own kids’ school fees should not cause me to judge him prematurely on these particular criminal charges.

    Until he’s proven guilty of this crime, I’ll therefore assume he’s innocent. If he IS proven guilty, I hope he’s sentenced accordingly… and I do not suggest leniency.

  3. “Mr. Weberman testified that as an unlicensed counselor, he was not
    obligated to report allegations of child abuse to secular authorities.”

    No, of course not, that obligation is for good people only.

  4. Priest and a rabbi are sitting on a park bench and two 10 year old boys come riding by on their bikes. The priest says, “hey, screw those little boys!” The rabbi says “out of what?”

     

  5.  From what you write here, I’m rethinking my own assumptions. When I think of institutional child abuse, I think of religious organizations, not the public schools or medical industry. I do believe this is well founded, but honestly I am not referencing real data. I do know from experience that working with kids involves a protocol (fingerprints, redundant staff, records, etc) to protect kids from abuse and workers from false allegations. From what is described, it looks like the accused did not use such a protocol. I wonder if this is due to the religious element, that he was the recipient of faith, an irresponsible amount of trust given on account of his funny hat.

    If he’s not guilty, this is still a problem of religion.

    “Masked men” coming into her bedroom at night to take her phone away? That’s creepy. This religious community is not on the same page as the rest of us on how to treat young people (not even getting into their alcoholic bris ritual).

  6.  Please tell me your not serious, Q.K..
    Lot’s of Jews are cheap- it’s part of a long culture of haggling as merchants- isn’t it okay to joke about reality?
    Lot’s of African individuals have more rhythm than entire Lutheran villages- and I LOVE to joke about that!

  7. For me this is not just about a closed,patriarchal religion, it is about the abuse of power.All the accusations of institutional abuse stem from the abuse of position.Within the BBC those accused were held up as senior figures,to be respected.This made the abuse much easier to arrange.Which awestruck little girl or boy would not be thrilled to be invited back to Jimmy Savile’s dressing room for a chat and an autograph? Except the bastard misused his position and assaulted them.This is particularly the case with religion which demands for itself a level of respect which it consistently abuses.This man should be judged the same as any other defendant, if he is found guilty the sentence should reflect the betrayal of trust that his religion has demanded of it’s followers and which he has used to his own foul ends!!

  8. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…
    Wow, a lot going on with this story. A good juror I would not be-myself once being
    a teenage girl, I would side with the young woman on an emotional level.

    Having heard closing arguments, the jury will get instructions for deliberation today.

    I smell a book deal/movie of the week brewing.

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