Brooklyn Hasid member cleared of snapping photo of victim who testified in sex abuse case

By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
May 8, 2014

The prosecution against a trio of Brooklyn Hasids accused of taking a photo of a sex abuse victim who was testifying in court continued to fade away Thursday with the second dismissal in as many months.

The misdemeanor contempt charge against Joseph Fried was surprisingly dropped on the eve of trial after prosecutors announced they “did a forensic review and determined there was insufficient evidence.”

A co-defendant with the unusual name of Lemon Juice saw his case fizzle out until it was dismissed March 21.

All three were charged for taking the illegal picture while the teen victim of Nechemya Weberman was on the stand during the high-profile 2012 trial of the Satmar counselor who’s now serving a 50-year sentence.

“Mr. Fried is gratified that his innocence was finally established and the case against him dismissed,” his lawyer, Susan Necheles, said after the hearing in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

The last defendant left standing is Yona Weissman, who prosecutors believe snapped the photo, sources said.

Court papers indicated that a court officer saw the offensive photograph on Fried’s phone too but multiple sources said it has since been deleted.

It remains unclear how that happened.

Two weeks before Thursday’s dismissal, Fried was charged for a much more serious crime: an alleged felony gang assault against a young man for which four other Jewish men, some of whom members of a volunteer patrol, have been arrested.

Boorey Deutsch, the husband of the victim whose photo was taken, railed against the decision to take Fried off the hook and blamed district attorney Kenneth Thompson of being soft on those who bully abuse victims in the ultra-Orthodox community.

“The system is giving them more reasons to intimidate victims and their families,” he said. “We are very upset.”

The case against Weissman is scheduled to go on June 10.

His lawyer Israel Fried predicted the end result will be similar to that of the other two.

“I don’t know that they have a case,” he said of prosecutors, noting that the photo was found on the phone a day after it was taken.

“What we know definitively,” he added, “is that nobody saw him take the photograph.”