An unlicensed therapist and respected member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn was sentenced on Tuesday to 103 years in prison for repeatedly sexually abusing a young woman, beginning the attacks when she was 12.More significant, they managed to get some of the Satmar Jewish community who attempted to intimidate witnesses:
The therapist, Nechemya Weberman, 54, a member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg, did not react as the judge sentenced him. The victim, now 18, who delivered an impassioned statement asking for the maximum sentence to be imposed, dabbed away tears.
“The message should go out to all victims of sexual abuse that your cries will be heard and justice will be done,” Justice John G. Ingram of State Supreme Court said before imposing the sentence, which was close to the longest the law allows. Justice Ingram praised the young victim’s “courage and bravery in coming forward.”
The proceedings were closely watched, as this was the first high-profile case against child sexual abuse that the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, had brought against a member of the politically powerful Satmar ultra-Orthodox community during his more than two decades in office. This sentence is the longest a Brooklyn court has imposed on a member of the ultra-Orthodox community for sexual abuse of a child.
Critics have charged Mr. Hynes with not being aggressive enough in going after molesters in the politically well-connected community. But Mr. Hynes has attributed the lack of prosecutions on the intimidation to stay silent that ultra-Orthodox sexual-abuse victims and their families often face from their own community leaders.Hopefully, this won't stop here.
Support for Mr. Weberman was strong in powerful circles of the Satmar community after his arrest in 2011, with hundreds turning out for a fund-raiser for his defense. But the courtroom on Tuesday was about equally divided between supporters for him and for his victim.
Mr. Hynes has said he believes the case may be a turning point for ultra-Orthodox victims of sexual abuse. In addition to convicting Mr. Weberman, his office also charged seven Hasidic men with bribery and intimidation of Mr. Weberman’s victim, who testified over four days. Prosecutors say they know of more victims who were too afraid to testify.
The harassment and coverups within the ultra-Orthodox community on this matter is endemic, and it will not stop until prosecutors go after people who do this.