Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The mother of a teenage girl who is accusing a member of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect of sexual abuse says that she paid her daughter's abuser, Nechemya Weberman, $12,800 for counseling services that the girl's school demanded she receive
The woman testified that her daughter's Brooklyn school told her that 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 that the girl was molested by Weberman, 54, for years. 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. Four men were arrested when they 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 that 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. The allegations surfaced in 2011 when the girl told a guidance counselor at a different school that she'd been molested. She eventually went to the police.