Sex abuse victim driven out of shul

Orthodox Jewish teen from Satmar community, whose testimony helped convict prominent Brooklyn counselor, shamed by worshippers as she arrives at synagogue on Rosh Hashana. 'They stopped the praying until she left,' her husband says

She held the battle of her life against the man who sexually abused her – a prominent counselor in the Hasidic community of Satmar in Brooklyn, and against members of her community who wouldn’t stop blaming her, but she never expected this: The Orthodox Jewish teen was driven out of her own synagogue on Rosh Hashana, the New York Post reports.


The 18-year-old girl, who is now married, arrived with her husband at the Williamsburg synagogue, where her family has been praying for the past decade, when one of the worshippers spotted her and yelled: "Moser, out of the shul!"


The word “moser” – a halachic definition – refers to a Jew who informs on another Jew to secular authorities. According to the NY Post, the young woman has suffered harassment ever since she first accused Nechemya Weberman, 54, of sexually abusing her after she was sent to him for counseling as a 12-year-old.


“They stopped the praying until she left,” her husband, Boorey Deutsch, 26, told the NY Post. “Some woman tried telling my wife to stay there and not leave. She shouldn’t care what they say. But my wife ended up leaving.”


'Survivors treated as if they were abusers'

Deutsch said his wife "felt horrible and mistreated. They treat survivors as if they are the abusers."


The brave victim testified at Weberman’s trial that she was afraid to report the abuse because he was “supposedly a god in Williamsburg” and nobody would believe her.


“Satmar would have kicked me out, and if Satmar kicks you out, nobody accepts you,” she said during the trial last year.


The trial put a spotlight on the insular Satmar Hasidic sect, and its strict rules that govern clothing, social customs and interaction with the outside world.


The accuser told authorities that Weberman abused her repeatedly behind his locked office door from the time she was 12 until she was 15. She had been ordered to see him by her school because she had been asking questions about her religion and was dressing immodestly according to the sect's customs, and she needed to be helped back on the right path. Weberman was not a licensed counselor but spent decades working with couples and families in his community.


Assistant District Attorney Linda Weinman said Weberman abused his role as a confidant and teacher, intimidating the girl to satisfy his sexual needs.


A Brooklyn court found him guilty of 59 counts including sustained sex abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse.


But there was no physical evidence regarding the suspected abuse. The defense argued that the girl was angry that Weberman had told her parents she had a boyfriend at age 15, which is forbidden in the community. Attorney Stacey Richman said the case came down to a simple "he said, she said."


"She's making things up in front of you as they occur," Richman told jurors.


50-year sentence

Senior members of the Hasidic movement backed Weberman, saying he was the victim of a libel by a "deprived youth." In a rare move, both rival camps in Satmar rushed to his aid, and their leaders even held a fundraiser to finance his legal defense, declaring it a halachic duty.


Sources in the Hasidic movement argued that the Brooklyn prosecutor was in a conflict of interest, as he had been criticized in the past for failing to deal with sex offenses in the Jewish Orthodox community due to his good relations with its members. Now, Satmar members say, he had a special interest in reaching a conviction – and Weberman paid the price.


They also claimed that the members of the jury were unable to understand the community's internal codes of conduct, and therefore it was not a fair trial.


According to the NY Post, the pressure for the girl to drop the case against Weberman was at times overwhelming.


At one point, three Orthodox Jewish brothers, Jacob, Joseph and Hertzka Berger, tried to intimidate Deutsch and his then-girlfriend into dropping the case by ripping down the “kosher” certificate at his Williamsburg restaurant.

The men pleaded guilty in June in a deal that gave them no jail time.


Last month, Abraham Rubin, 49, also pleaded guilty to offering Deutsch and the victim $500,000 to leave the country so that the case against Weberman could be dropped.


Weberman, who is married with 10 children, is currently serving his 50-year sentence at the maximum-security Shawangunk Correctional Facility in upstate Wallkill.


The Associated Press contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 09.11.13, 14:03
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