Civil suit filed by victim of Nechemya Weberman, Satmar spiritual adviser convicted of sexual abuse

by Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
January 7, 2014

A year after a spiritual adviser in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community was convicted of sex abuse at trial, the young woman he molested is taking him to court again.

The teenage victim of Nechemya Weberman is suing her imprisoned former tormentor for emotional distress. Her civil suit, filed last month in Brooklyn Supreme Court, requests unspecified damages, and also names as a defendant the United Talmudic Academy, the yeshiva in Williamsburg where educators referred her to Weberman for violations of personal conduct standards.

During Weberman’s headline-making criminal trial in 2012, the victim testified for four days about how the spiritual adviser forced himself on her and made her reenact porn-movie scenes during disturbing counseling sessions that began when she was just 12 years-old. The abuse spanned a period of about three years between 2007 and 2010.

The victim, who is now 19 and enrolled in college, “will continue to suffer depression, anxiety, emotional distress, anguish and ridicule, embarrassment, humiliation and degradation,” according to papers filed in connection with her civil suit.

The Daily News could not reach the victim for comment, and is withholding her name due to the nature of the abuse she suffered.

“This is a minor ... who was sexually assaulted over an extended period of time by an older person in a position of authority,” her lawyer, Mitchell Aaron, told The News on Tuesday.

At the conclusion of the criminal trial, Weberman, 55, was found guilty in December 2012 of all 59 counts lodged against him. He is currently serving a 50-year sentence in Shawangunk Correctional Facility in upstate Ulster County.

Weberman’s lawyer, Michael Cibella, said his client maintains his innocence and will file his appeal in coming months. Cibella said he expects the civil suit will be put on hold until after the appeal process is over, he added.

“We obviously deny the allegations in the complaint,” Cibella said.

The victim’s lawyer said Weberman’s conviction in the criminal trial makes their civil claim easier to prove. On the other hand, Aaron added, the inmate has little to no financial resources. That’s one of the reasons why the suit was filed against the yeshiva , he said.

“We think we’ll be able to prove that the school put this in motion then stood by and did nothing,” Aaron said. “They had responsibility, we believe, to oversee what was going on when she was meeting with him.”

The victim had testified at trial that she was sent to the unlicensed Satmar therapist after she had gotten in trouble at the yeshiva for not complying with its strict modesty rules, such as the requirement that students wear extra-thick stockings. She was mandated to continue receiving spiritual guidance from Weberman as a condition to remain enrolled in the school.

An administrator at the yeshiva declined to comment on the civil suit when contacted by The News on Tuesday.