On the Seventh Day, the Prosecution Rested and Victim Supporters Protested in Williamsburg

(For an overview of the trial till yesterday see Allison Yarrow’s account in the Daily Beast)

After the alleged victim finished testifying on Friday, everything else was anticlimactic. But there were some significant new facts brought to light.

The mother of the victim testified that the family was forced to use Nechemya Weberman and pay $12,000 up front or else her daughter would be kicked out of the Satmar UTA school system. She produced a letter from the school laying out those demands (LINK). As I have said before, this isn’t just a trial about abuse. It is also a trial about vaad hatznius (modesty committee) extortion.

Another important witness was the mental health professional at the victim’s school who was the first person to hear about the victim’s abuse and report it. She established that she first began hearing pieces of the story from her in December 2010. In an emotional moment she described the victim’s anguish and brought many in the courtroom to tears. This fact helps refute the defense claim that the charge was revenge for something Weberman did well after that first disclosure.

The defense will put up Weberman as a witness today. Yesterday they tried to lay the groundwork. They called on  the arresting detective to establish inconsistencies between the victim’s original statements to the police and her testimony at the trial. This is a standard tactic to impugn the credibility of the witness and imply she is lying. In reality, no matter how honest you are, you will have a hard time telling a long, complicated painful story the exact same way twice, two years apart. The important question is whether the versions are basically the same and whether the differences are substantively important. The prosecution demolished the defense claims in a withering and sarcastic cross-examination that left the courtroom laughing. The judge admonished everyone to maintain decorum but even he had trouble suppressing his amused expression.

A principal of the Satmar school was put on the stand to deny any collusion with the vaad hatznius. He even claimed there was no vaad hatznius and he did not know those words except as terms in a dictionary. Everyone in Williamsburg knows he is lying. Rachmuna Litzlon (Ari Mandel) ridiculed that claim on Twitter and Facebook. One of Weberman’s supporters challenged him to provide their address and phone number. Of course we all know that the vaad is a shadowy entity with no official listing, but most everyone in  hasidic Williamsburg can name its activists. Ari’s witty reply was “1 (800) MAFIA-11.”  He also posted on FaceBook a copy of a KJ vaad hatznius letter to a parent telling him his kids could no longer attend Satmar schools because he shaved his beard.

Perhaps the most significant development happened outside the trial. Defenders of the victim were furious about the Saturday night speech by Aron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe-KJ who called the victim a whore. Ari Mandel and Joshie Berger used FaceBook to organize a demonstration outside his large gathering in Williamsburg. Over 60 victim supporters attended brandishing signs and distributing leaflets. Event attendees passing by took the leaflets and some were persuaded by them. The slogans on the signs included: Rabbis are not above  the law; If you are not for the victims, you are against the victims, Aiyn apitropos l’aroyos (You can’t be your own guardian on sexual matters), God does not have a statute of limitations on sexual abuse, Sexual abuse of little boys and girls is soul murder, Stop silencing and shaming survivors of abuse, and herst oiyf shitzen menuvalim (stop protecting lowlife molesters).

Demonstration outside AT event in Williamsburg

Weberman’s supporters are ridiculing the demonstration as trivial and full of bums who are no longer religious. But the organizers of the event were not so sanguine. They deployed in force and Shlomo Shammas was out there with others to try and route event attendees away from the demonstration. They are scared. They are not used to being challenged. They are not used to having the issue talked about publicly on their home turf. They know that a conversation is being opened that they work hard to suppress. As Elie Wiesel wrote: “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” The era of silence is drawing to a close. The protest was covered by TV station WPIX 11

The victim who testified against Weberman is our Nachshon. Where others lacked the faith to step forward and test the waters she stepped forward boldly.  Because of her the waters are parting and others are also stepping forward. It started with the counter demonstration against the fundraiser for Weberman this summer organized by Zaakah on FaceBook. But that was targeted at the fundraiser, not at the Rebbe himself. Then an I event I organized was directed against Zaalman Leib Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe-Williamsburg when he appeared in Flatbush. Still, folks were afraid to demonstrate in Williamsburg, the heart of Satmar in Brooklyn, in a direct attack on a Rebbe. That changed last night.

Weberman is expected to take the stand in his own defense today. He is gambling recklessly. Smart defense lawyers keep their clients off the stand. Once you go up there and finish your account the prosecution gets to cross-examine. By law all sorts of topics are off  limits for the prosecution unless the defense opens them up by putting the defendant on the stand. For example, you don’t have to defend the witnesses honesty if his testimony is not part of the evidence at a trial. But once he goes up he can be confronted with evidence of his dishonest character.

Readers, you will be upset by Weberman’s lies on the stand. But stay cool and wait for the cross-examination. Weberman, an arrogant manipulator is going to discover that his lies no longer work. He thinks he is on the royal highway to acquittal but he is going to discover he has walked into a buzz saw. Weberman’s backers know the truth, the trial is going badly for them. There is every indication they are preparing for an appeal, as is their legal right. But most appeals fail and he will probably sit in jail while he awaits the outcome of the appeal. With juries, nothing is certain but the odds are excellent that Weberman just spent his last shabbos as a free man. Many of his victims have probably spent their last shabbos tormented by the thought that he is free while they suffer.


18 thoughts on “On the Seventh Day, the Prosecution Rested and Victim Supporters Protested in Williamsburg

  1. Aron Teitelbaum & Nechemya Weberman …….”Zolst hobn tsen haizer, yeder hoiz zol hobn tsen tsimern, in yeder tsimer zoln zain tsen betn un zolst zij kaiklen fun ein bet in der tsweiter mit cadojes!”…..(I wish you to have ten houses, each house with ten rooms, each room with ten beds and you should roll from one bed to the other with cholera!

  2. Never heard that one before its a good one. The one I heard the most was this one “zolzt vakzin vi a tzvibel mit dir kop in der ehrt” you should grow like an onion with your head in the ground!

    • or better yet to the two chazers…….”Zolst zein vi a lomp, am tug sollst di hangen, in der nacht sollst di brennen!”……(You should be like a lamp, you should hang during the day and burn during the night!)

  3. “This fact helps refute the defense claim that the charge was revenge for something Weberman did well after that first disclosure.”

    I’m confused about the timeline here. Did Weberman help to get the boy arrested on statutory rape after she told the SW about the molestation? I thought the arrest happened while she was in the first school and still seeing Weberman in counseling.

    • No, thankfully she was kicked out all chasidish schools and was no longer in counseling with weberman but was seeing real mental health professionals. The point is that her “first outcry” was months before the charges were brought and was before the boy was arrested. so that makes it impossible for her to have fabricated her story in revenge for something that had not yet happened.

      • Well that would certainly blow apart the revenge theory. But I think you have the timing wrong. Boyfriend was arrested in April 2010 according to the Daily Beast article, and SW says she first heard story in Dec. 2010. If the SW was going to provide such damaging testimony, why would the defense have called her?

        • You are right about the timing as reported in Allison Yarrow’s account. I will try and confirm the actual date of the arrest for statuatory activity. My recollection following this case for a long time is that it was timed much closer to the arrest but I need to see if there are any other sources. Thank your Shoshy for careful attention to detail.

  4. YL-

    Did the girl ever receive a physical examination following her admission that NW molested her, or was there any physical evidence to support her claim? And has that come up in any of the testimony?

    • The girl reported the molestation months after it was alleged to have taken place. What kind of physical evidence would there be? Also, AFAIK the kind of molestation she described doesn’t leave any evidence behind that would show up on a physical exam, even if done right away. People seem to expect that she preserved semen samples. This is not Monica Lewinsky we are talking about.

      • I’m sorry, let me correct that. Had she been examined right away (within 72 hours) there could have been evidence, but not months later.

      • I wasn’t trying to imply that there was a Monica moment in this trial; I was just asking the question without any far reaching implications. So please don’t contort an honest inquiry into something taken from the National Enquirer .

        • I wasn’t accusing you of purient interest. I personally find the details distasteful and if you read my posts you will see that I almost never get into details. Even in the Tropper case where I had and watched the videos and listened to the tapes before the story broke I did not share them.

          Obviously the professionals directly involved need to know the details for legal and mental health reasons. I pay attention to the details because they have implications for competent reporting.

          Once you asked about physical evidence, Shoshy and I assumed you were asking because of the legal implications so we answered with that in mind. There have been allegations that Weberman maliciously left burn marks on the stomachs of his other victims. Indirectly I was alluding to that when I spoke about physical examination for injuries. Either he did noti do that in this case or it did not come up for some other reason, perhaps because the victim was reluctant to have to deal with the evidentiary dispute that might require partial uncovering. However, if that pattern with other victims was true for her, I would have expected the DA to arrange examination to be prepared if it came up at the trial.

          I was reluctant to speak about that directly, but now I see I would have been better off being direct.

    • I agree with Shoshy about evidence of intercourse but the charges were forcing her to provide him with oral sex. Thus barring permanent physical injury physical evidence of the abuse would be gone by the time the case came to the police. I do not know if there was a physical exam of any kind,

  5. On the contrary; I have been lauding YL’s courage and committment to justice since day one- not only here on his blog, but anywhere else I happened to see one of his posted comments (how many guys named “Fred” have you seen with blog postings?) . Personally, this trial, with all of its machinations and grotesque behaviour by the Satmar community has been one of the most upsetting religious experiences I have ever witnessed. I’m glad the trial is going badly for him, hence good for the accuser. But I’m always concerned that the absence of some category of evidence- physical, witnesses, circumstancial, or whatever- can leave a gap in the perception of the jury that will expand during their deliberations. Sure, there is no iron clad case, but I want to see justice done, just like everyone else.

    • Again, my apologies. I have not been following your posts.

      I’m with you on the wish for better evidence. But the nature of this trial is that the verdict will ultimately hinge on issues of witness credibility rather than a “smoking gun”. I think the DA did submit photos of the office, and the description of locks was consistent with what she testified, but that doesn’t really prove anything. An earlier article said the cops did search the apartment/office, but there were procedural problems and the evidence was judged inadmissable, and they didn’t find anything anyway.

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