On February 23, 2011, Nechemya Weberman was arrested, arraigned in Kings County Criminal Court, and released on $15,000 cash bail. The arraignment specified multiple charges of sexually abusing a Hasidic girl in Williamsburg, starting when she was twelve and continuing until she was fifteen. The next day I was the first to note his active role in the vaad hatznius (modesty committee) which is how he first got involved in the life of this girl.
Weberman returned to Criminal Court on March 9. However, the day before, the Office of the Kings County District Attorney unsealed an indictment with 150 felony charges. This shifted his case to the Kings County Supreme Court for his appearance on Friday, March 25th.
In Who Will Watch the Watchers?, I reported on a regular extortion racket of the vaad hatznius in Williamsburg and other Hasidic communities. A member of the vaad would tell an individual or family that they faced embarrassment and serious loss of social status because of some infraction of the modesty code. The vaad would then ask for payments of anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 for “therapy” and other expenses. The vaad would select the “therapist.” Unfortunately for the girl in this case, the therapist was Weberman. All of this happened because she was alleged to be disrespectful, which is to say, she asked hard questions but she had teachers who could not answer her questions and preferred unthinking compliance.
Over a three year period, with the collusion of the girl’s school, Bais Rochel of the Satmar’s United Talmudical Academy (UTA) she was kept in therapy. The therapy consisted of Weberman grooming her and repeatedly sexually abusing her. Weberman, in this case and others, would regularly report a lack of adequate progress owing to chutzpah on the part of his girls. In this way he was establishing his alibi and his power over his victims. He would keep on reminding his victims that he was respected and if they complained they would not be believed because they were “bad girls.” Eventually, she was kicked out of Satmar’s school.
Because of her “reputation” she could not get into any other school in Williamsburg. This turned out to be a blessing. Her parents enrolled her in a school outside Williamsburg. This school picked up on her personal distress. In a counseling session with a genuine professional she disclosed her abuse. A professional mental health worker reported the abuse, as called for by law, and this culminated in Weberman’s arrest.
In Williamsburg, as is their minhag (customary practice), they rallied around the “innocent holy” Rabbi Weberman. They adopted their usual stance of blaming the accuser of being a moser (lying snitch) motivated by hostility to religious observance and resentment of the man who tried to help her. Above all, this response was rooted in a conviction that nobody in their community should ever be subject to the power of the government to enforce its laws. Some took this stance even though they knew or had reason to suspect that Weberman was guilty (see here and here). Nevertheless others in the community reported that many other girls and married women also claimed to have been abused by Weberman.
A fundraiser was organized on behalf of Weberman on May 16, 2012 in a large catering hall in Williamsburg. A protest was organized outside by a new anti-abuse advocacy group, Zaakah which was reported by major media including the New York Times and the NY Daily News. On the one hand the event was reported to have collected over a half a million dollars for his legal defense. On the other hand, for the first time in Williamsburg, over a hundred protesters showed up to challenge the claim that Weberman was innocent.
Weberman has a lavish legal defense team including George Farkas, 2 other lawyers and a set of jury selection specialists. However, his supporters understood that would probably not be enough so they also tried to use intimidation, harassment and bribery. The witness’s nieces and nephews were kicked out of school, the businesses of her boyfriend and parents were threatened and she and those close to her were harassed in all sorts of ways.
Her boyfriend (now her husband), Hershy (Boorey) Deutsch, operated a kosher restaurant in Williamsburg. When he kept on supporting her they carried out their threat and got his kosher certification removed. This destroyed his business. Next, they offered him a $500,000 bribe to get the witness to move to Israel and not testify. He recorded the bribe offer and brought it to the D.A. On June 21, 2012, Charles Hynes, Kings County District Attorney announced the arrest of 4 Hasidic men charged with bribery, witness tampering, and coercion. (See this excellent account by Colleen Long in HuffingtonPost).
On October 14 I organized a demonstration which was held outside a Satmar fundraiser in Flatbush to protest their continued protection of molesters such as Weberman, Reichman and others. The Forward reported on the demonstration in Yiddish
Now, at last, the trial is scheduled to start tomorrow with jury selection (unless, winter storm Sandy interferes).
The trial Nechemya Weberman (case # 01589-2011) is scheduled to start Tuesday, October 30, 2012 in Kings County NYS Supreme Court Criminal Term, Part 21, on 320 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY11201 in front of Judge John G. Ingram.
Supporters of the victim and activists against abuse are planning attendance in support of the victim, petitions (TBA shortly), and demonstrations (TBA).