CBS 2 News
May 16, 2012
A controversial fundraiser that's dividing an Orthodox Jewish community will be held tonight in Brooklyn.
The dinner is raising legal funds for Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, 53, who was arrested last year when a 16-year-old female accused him of molesting her during years of counseling sessions dating back to when she was 12-years-old.
Weberman has pleaded not guilty to charges of committing a criminal sex act, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse.
Posters in Yiddish and Hebrew have been put up throughout Williamsburg announcing the fundraiser on Weberman's behalf for those who believe the teen made up the claims in an effort to threaten their Orthodox community.
"Possibly the worst thing that can happen to a person, worse than child abuse itself, is to be falsely accused of it," defense attorney George Farkas said.
Weberman's lawyer said his client is entitled to a strong defense but friends of the victim, who would not speak on camera, have no doubt that she is telling the truth.
A victim's advocate called the posters "threatening," saying they insinuate the victim is harming the community.
"The suggestion is that this victim, by going to the authorities and reporting the abuse, is attacking the entire community," said Ben Hirsch of the group, Survivors for Justice. "I believe one of the posters shows a missile coming down on the community. The missile is, of course, the victim and the community is everyone alongside the accused."
Hirsch said the posters are calling the victim a "menace" and "danger to the community."
CBS 2 has reported extensively on the sex abuse issue in the ultra Orthodox community and the increasing criticism over the way District Attorney Charles Hynes handles cases. There have been charges that he has a cozy relationship with rabbinical leadership. Unlike other DAs, he refuses to release the names of alleged abusers, a practice CBS 2 has legally challenged.
"It's a civil rights statute that precludes us from identifying the people," Hynes said recently.
Hynes maintains that releasing the names of the accusers in the tightly-knit community could also reveal the names of the victims.