By Jewish Daily Forward
February 9, 2013
The 103-year prison sentence a judge slapped on convicted child molester Nechemya Weberman has reportedly been slashed by more than half by state prison officials.
State Supreme Court Justice John G. Ingram hit Weberman, an unlicensed ‘therapist’ in the Satmar Hasidic community, with the century-plus term behind bars for repeatedly abusing a young girl placed in his care.
But the state Corrections Department said he should have only been sentenced to a maximum of 50 years for the felony he was convicted of, the Daily News reported.
Officials say Weberman will likely get another seven years shaved off his sentence if he doesn’t commit any major crimes behind bars.
So the 54-year-old could end up being released in 2055, the paper said, wehn he would be 97 years old.
Court insiders told the News said that judges sometimes hit defendants with longer sentences than statues call for to send messages.
Weberman, who was convicted last month of sexual conduct against a child, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, faced up to 117 years behind bars at his sentencing.
Now 18 years old and married, the victim was 12 years old when her parents sent her to Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, for religious counseling. From 2007 to 2010, Weberman sexually abused the girl multiple times, mostly in his office, prosecutors said.
“I would cry until my tears ran dry,” said the victim, her voice shaking with emotion as she read a statement at the sentencing in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
“I saw a girl who had no reason to live … a girl who wanted to live a normal life but instead was being victimized by a 50-year-old man who forced her to perform sickening acts again and again,” she said.
Kevin O’Donnell, a prosecutor in Hynes’ office, said he and colleagues had learned of about 10 women who claimed they were sexually abused by Weberman, either as children or as adults. The allegations were too old under the statute of limitations to be prosecuted, except in one case in which the woman was still undecided whether she wished to proceed with her complaint.
The Hasidic community has a longtime practice of addressing sex abuse accusations internally, critics say sometimes by ignoring them or intimidating victims into silence.
In 2009, Hynes created a program called Kol Tzedek - Hebrew for Voice of Justice - to help victims of sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities to come forward, including a dedicated confidential hotline. There have been 112 arrests and there are about 50 cases pending as a result of the program, according to Hynes’ office.
Weberman’s trial was marred by accusations of witness intimidation. At one point, four men were arrested on charges of photographing the victim in court, then posting her image on Twitter. Their cases are pending. The identity of victims in sex abuse cases is typically protected.