By Oren Yaniv, With Simone Weichselbaum(NY Daily News)
January 20, 2012
She wasn't the only one.
Nechemya Weberman, the unlicensed Hasidic counselor slated to be sentenced Tuesday for sexually abusing a Brooklyn girl, violated at least 10 others — including teens and married women he counseled, a Daily News investigation revealed.
The self-proclaimed religious adviser even invoked Kabbalah — a form of Jewish mysticism — to convince his victims that having sex with him was kosher.
“He’s a monster,” said a man whose daughter was repeatedly brutalized by Weberman a couple of years before the victim at trial came forward.
The beautiful, 18-year-old Brooklyn woman testified how Weberman, 54, touched her private parts, forced her to perform oral sex and ordered her to reenact porn during a three-year period that started when she was only 12. The disgraced Satmar counselor was convicted of all 59 counts against him last month.
Other women who were sexually abused by Weberman refused to speak publicly for fear of retribution. But those close to them described a pattern of nurturing and grooming where he would shower outcast teens with attention, take them on road trips — and even buy them lingerie.
He told one young victim, “That ‘I learned Kabbalah and we were a couple in another incarnation,’ ” said a friend of the woman.
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, who runs a Jewish youth program, said he was told by victims Weberman used the Kabbalah line on them too.
“The intimate acts he was performing were intended as a form of repentance for sins committed in their previous lifetimes,” said Horowitz.
He would tell teens who had been deemed troublemakers for being immodest, “No one will ever believe messed-up kids like them,” said Horowitz.
“A master manipulator,” said Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the sex crimes division at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
Weberman used women’s lowly standing in the ultra-Orthodox community to prey on the vulnerable, sources said.
“He is probably the only male who has ever given them the time of day and listened to them,” said a law enforcement source. “He had a huge amount of psychological hold over them.”
The father who spoke to The News about his daughter’s ordeal refused to give details about what was done to her, but other sources said her experience was similar to the sick deviations described by the victim at trial.
“Not only the sexual abuse,” the father said, “but the psychological abuse. . . . Why?”
He said his strong religious beliefs kept him from reporting Weberman when he heard of the attacks.
The father was assured that Weberman would stop counseling girls — and was shocked when charges were lodged against the counselor in February 2011.
The News found five additional people who said they were aware of Weberman’s misconduct years before he was arrested.
The criminal case finally came about, sources said, after the victim was told by friends that her adviser “was a known pervert.”
“It’s a common occurrence in cases we deal with,” said Kevin O’Donnell, the lead prosecutor in the case. “Kids can compartmentalize, justify, somehow live with their own abuse and most of them think it’s happening to them only and nobody else.”
He added that hearing of other victims “frequently prompts someone to come forward.”
No other alleged victim has been willing to press charges against Weberman — out of fear of being ostracized or because the statute of limitation had expired.
“It’s very difficult to go with only one victim. We always want to have more than one victim,” Jaus said. “And when you know there are more out there, it is hard, very hard . . . but you do the best you can.”
Prosecutors have stated in court they are aware of four married women and two underaged girls who were bedded by Weberman. The News has since found four more.
The prosecution attempted at trial to have the jury hear from other Weberman victims — including a woman who had sexual relations with him while he was her marriage counselor. She refused to speak with The News.
Weberman, who is facing 117 years in prison, declined to meet a reporter at the Manhattan lockup where he’s being held.
His defense team — which vowed to appeal — also complained about being precluded from presenting certain evidence.
“I don’t think they have other victims,” defense lawyer Michael Farkas said of prosecutors after the trial ended.
“A lot of people were willing to give them information and I am very suspicious [of that information].”
The list of victims identified by prosecutors and found by The News includes at least four married women now ranging in age from their 20s to their 40s — three of whom he counseled. The other lived in his building.
The other six victims are not married, but all of them went to him initially for counseling.
One of the witnesses the defense called to the stand was a runaway who ended up living in Weberman’s office for three years. She denied any inappropriate behavior on his part, even when grilled by prosecutors about getting caught in a compromising position with him.
“He still has her in his grip,” said a friend of hers.