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Jury gets case in Orthodox Jewish sexual abuse trial

Dec 7, 2012

The trial of an Orthodox Jewish leader accused of sexually assaulting a girl on several occassions for years came to a close late last week, leaving the case to the jury to decide his fate.

According to a New York Post report, Nechemya Weberman's fate now rests in the hands of the 12 people selected to hear the case in which he is accused of sexually abusing starting when she was 12 years old. Weberman denies the accusations and prosecutors believe the revered Jewish leader in his tight-knit Orthodox community in Brooklyn thought he could get away with the crimes simply through the power of influence.

However, the victim of the alleged abuse testified during the trial that Weberman's influence and attempts to contact her persisted in the years after she put an end to it by alerting authorities. She says Weberman has gone to the lengths of contacting her directly, influencing her father to have her boyfriend arrested, and using contacts within the community to intimidate her into dropping the charges against him.

Weberman's case is one of likely dozens in which some leader in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn is accused of sexual abuse against children. Some cases have gone to trial and resulted in convictions. Others have been dismissed and some others have gone unresolved, in some cases due to influence against witnesses or accusers. 

In previous reports from the trial and regarding this case, Weberman made contact with the alleged victim's father and informed him that the victim previous told him that she and her boyfriend (now her husband) had become romantically involved. Pre-marital sexual relations are taboo in that community and could land a person in jail for breaking the law if it is ever discovered. Weberman allegedly had the boyfriend arrested in an attempt to intimidate the victim. Evidence that allegedly proved that Weberman installed secret video equipment into the victim's bedroom to record her having sex with her boyfriend was not admitted for trial.

During the trial, prosecutors allege that the victim believed Weberman to be part of the Vaad Ha'Tnuis, a somewhat secretive committee that determines the law and code for the tight community, including setting its dress code and moral code. In fact, prosecutors allege the victim believed Weberman to be the "Vaad Father" of that organization, underlining his influence in the community for their case against him.

Weberman is accused of abusing the victim numerous times, forcing her to watch pornography and then repeat what she saw for him. This continued until she was 15 and was eventually asked to leave the school where Weberman worked and was supposed to be counseling the victim and other students.

The jury should have its verdict next week.

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