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Orthodox Men Charged With Snapping Court Pics Arraigned on Sabbath

Three Orthodox Jewish men who allegedly took photographs in court of a young woman who accused Rabbi Nechemya Weberman of sexually assaulting her were arraigned after the Sabbath began Friday evening.

Joseph Fried, Yona Weisman and Lemon Juice (Yes It’s not a misprint , his name was recently changed, legally to Lemon Juice) were arrested Thursday evening and charged with judicial contempt, a misdemeanor, after a court officer found pictures on their phones of the alleged victim testifying in the courtroom where Weberman has been on trial. Abraham Zupnick was arrested as well but the charges against him were dropped on Friday.

Weberman, 54, the head of a Satmar sect of Orthodox Jews, is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the young woman starting when she was 12 years old.

PHOTO CREDIT: DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

Prosecutors said the men accused of taking photos made the trial even more difficult for the alleged victim, who is now 17 years old.

“There was no other reason to do this except to intimidate and dissuade this witness and other potential witnesses from testifying in this highly public rape trial,” Assistant District Attorney Joseph DiBenedetto said.

But lawyers for all three men said that while their clients may have taken photos outside of the courtroom in the hallway, they did not take any pictures of the young woman while she was testifying.

“If any pictures were taken, they were taken in the hallway,” said Shekera Shahid, Fried’s lawyer.

The defense lawyers said the photos of the alleged victim testifying must have been taken by someone else and sent to their clients’ phones. The lawyers also said no one had witnessed their clients taking photos in the courtroom, although prosecutors said court officers observed Weisman with his phone out during the trial on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Fried and Weisman declined to say who their clients supported in the trial, but Leopold Gross, Juice’s lawyer, said Juice attended the trial to support the victim, not intimidate her. Gross said Juice did not know he wasn’t supposed to take pictures in court, and Gross denied prosecutors’ claim that Juice had posted a picture of the young woman to Twitter.

Bail was set at $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash for each of the three men, and they were expected to be released late Friday or early Saturday.

If convicted, they each face up to a year in jail.

The men appeared before a judge after sundown on Friday, during a time when Jews are not allowed to work, drive or use an elevator.

That made it more difficult for their families to be there for support, and the men will be unable to get a ride home when they are released.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Joseph Fried’s brother, Yoel Fried. “They are going to have to walk home.”

The men belong to the Satmar sect of Hasidic Jews who live in Williamsburg, approximately 2.5 to 3 miles from the court.

The case has been a lightning rod within the Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which does not generally want to involve outside law enforcement.

Supporters of the young woman said she has already faced intimidation from the community in coming forward, and that the pictures may be another attempt to shame her.

“It’s extremely disrespectful, especially in her community,” said one 18-year-old woman on Thursday. “It’s hard enough for her to stand in front of Weberman.”

Her testimony continued Friday, and the court ended those proceedings at 2 p.m. because of the Sabbath.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office would not comment on the arraignment taking place Friday night, but did say they have no control over when it happens.

A friend of the young men said he felt the proceedings were being stalled.

“It’s very bad. They’re doing it on purpose,” the friend said. “The paperwork should be done by now. It’s been 24 hours.”

Source: DNA Info

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Posted by on December 1, 2012. Filed under Jewish News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to Orthodox Men Charged With Snapping Court Pics Arraigned on Sabbath

  1. 5T Mommy

    December 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    message to the community there in williamsburg, you etter shape up or else.

    You are not dealing with a rabbi in Hungary, you are dealing with the USA government.

    You better shape up and start acting like humans or you will pay a hefty price.

  2. 1+1

    December 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    The Jew bashing has been terrible by the media. Rabbi Weberman is on trial and as of now he is innocent.
    The boys (If found guilty – which it has not happened yet) have only done a mistemeanor, and yes they have a right to uphold their shabbas just like every muslim has a right to eat hallal food in prison.

    What has happened here that the Jew Bashing is coming from within?

  3. Baruch

    December 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Instead of hiding in the deepest part of the planet after being expose for such crimes, you guys are taunting officials?

    Shabbas is your problem? You have a guy that you appointed for a counsler and was not qualified to even be in that building and you have a problem with shabbas? What kind of priorities do you have?

    MIND BOGGLING!