An unlicensed counselor in Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community was sentenced to 103 years in prison Tuesday for the sexual abuse of a girlwho came to him with questions about her faith.
Nechemya Weberman was convicted in December of sustained sexual abuse of a child and other charges.
Weberman was not a licensed counselor but spent decades working with couples and families in his community.
The girl, now 18, testified for days about the abuse. She said it started when she was 12 and lasted until she was 15. She had been questioning her faith and her teachers felt she was straying from the right path, so they sent her to Weberman for guidance. Instead, she said, he molested her.
But there was no physical evidence. The defense argued that the girl was angry that Weberman had told her parents she had a boyfriend at age 15, forbidden in her community. They said the girl was a liar and the case was a simple he said, she said.
Weberman also testified, saying he “never, ever” abused the girl.
The trial put a spotlight on the fiercely private Satmar Hasidic sect, to which Weberman and the girl both belonged.
Many donated thousands of dollars to Weberman’s defense fund and never believed he molested the young girl.
“He would never do such a thing, not near such a thing and it hurts me very much,” Williamsburg resident Yuchezarun Roth said.
Others praised the teen for going against her family and some say, her faith, by reporting Weberman to police.
“I can’t understate just how we’ve come to regard her as a woman of courage to come forward at a very, very difficult time,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
The jury took just hours to convict Weberman on all counts. The unidentified victim, meanwhile, is still healing.
“She is definitely going to need a lot of help. and this is the core therapy right now, the fact that he came out guilty and he’s going with handcuffs,” said victim’s advocate Pearl Reich.
Weberman’s lawyers have said they plan to appeal.
Source: CBS 2 NY