By Josh Saul (NY Post)
January 22, 2013
The young Brooklyn teen who was sexually abused by her Hasidic counselor smiled through her tears today as the perverted monster was sentenced to 103 years behind bars and hauled off in handcuffs.
Nechemya Weberman, 54, showed no emotion as he heard the judge pronounce his virtual life sentence for taking advantage of the then-12-year-old girl over the course of three years in his counseling office.
“I clearly remember how I would look in the mirror. I saw a girl who didn’t want to live in her own skin,” the brave victim, 18, said in Brooklyn Supreme Court before the sentence. “A sad girl who wished so badly she could live a normal teenage life but instead was victimized by a 54-year-old man who forced her to perform sickening acts, again and again, for his sadistic pleasure.”
A jury found the bearded child molester guilty on all 59 counts in December. He has been in jail since then awaiting today’s sentencing.
“I can finally look at myself and feel happy that god gave me the strength to go through with this trial,” she said.
The trial provided a rare glimpse into the insular world of Brooklyn Hasidism and the cloistered Satmar sect.
The girl was sent to Weberman for counseling after she failed to dress according to Satmar standards of modesty. Witnesses also told a riveted courtroom about Satmar practices like the masked modesty squad that stormed into a girl’s bedroom to confiscate her cellphone.
Weberman’s trial tore apart the incredibly private Satmar sect, pitting Weberman’s fierce loyalists against the victim’s supporters who claimed the community turned a blind eye to abuse.
After she spoke the victim sat in the front row to watch her abuser receive his punishment. Her young husband put his arm around her as she dabbed her eyes and nose with a white Kleenex.
She wore a sparkly gold sweater, a black skirt with a grey leopard belt, and the black Uggs boots she wore during her gripping testimony last year. For the first time, she left behind the rubber green stress ball she squeezed nervously during days of grueling cross-examination.
“[She] was treated like dirt while the defendant was like a god in the community,” said assistant district attorney Kevin O’Donnell, who likened her testimony against Weberman to the fight between David and Goliath.
“Just like the stone, the truth struck the giant and struck him down.”
Weberman’s team of defense attorneys said they would appeal.
“We honestly, fully, and truly believe that this is a setup that was done for the sake of revenge,” said defense attorney George Farkas.
The defense team has argued that the victim accused Weberman for revenge after he told her parents she had a boyfriend and was involved in a bizarre incident where her father secretly filmed her having sex with her boyfriend and used the tape to get him arrested for statutory rape.
Judge John Ingram thundered his condemnation of Weberman’s crimes before handing down the century-long sentence.
This defendant has taken the innocence of a young woman and betrayed her family’s trust and the trust of the school that sent her to him,” he said. “I sat within three or four feet from [her] and heard her asked questions of the most intrusive nature that caused her to break down and cry at least twice during the 15 hours of questioning.”
In that testimony last year, the victim said she didn’t know what to do when Weberman began the abuse.
“My whole body froze,” she told jurors on Nov. 27. “I didn’t know how to fight back.”
The victim hid years of abuse, fearing expulsion from the only community she’d ever known.
“Satmar would have kicked me out, and if Satmar kicks you out, nobody accepts you,” she said of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidim. “No one in Williamsburg would accept me.”
During those years of abuse, the victim said she didn’t believe anyone would take her allegations seriously.
“I thought they would never believe me, since he was supposedly a god in Williamsburg,” she said.
The young woman’s testimony rocked Williamsburg. Three ultra-orthodox Jews were arrested for allegedly snapping secret pictures of the victim on the stand after the images ended up on Twitter.
After Weberman was convicted, an Orthodox rabbi who supported the victim allegedly had bleach thrown in his face by a pro-Weberman supporter.
-Additional reporting by Rebecca Rosenberg and David K. Li