By Jacob Gluck (HasidicNews.com)
May 16, 2012
As the fundraising event gets underway this evening for Nechemiah Weberman's defense against allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, deep rifts are laid bare in the Hasidic Community of Williamsburg. There is far from consensus in the street opinion as to whether Mr. Weberman is innocent or guilty. Informal polling of community members regarding the accusation yields emotions ranging from sympathy to the neutral "it was probably consensual" claim to the vehement denial of the charges.
For those who deny the charges, the "evidence" is written on the wall. Mr. Weberman, a member in good standing in the community and a popular activist has a a good reputation — that is ipso facto proof that he's innocent. But for family members and sympathizers who are fed up with the abuse of power and sexual impropriety that gets shoved under the rug, the accusation is serious. They paint a grim picture of a man who for years juggled illicit sexual encounters with members of the opposite sex he encountered in the course of his "consultancy" work for community members.
But what the mainstream media have failed to report is the epic intrigue underlying this case. The legal case against Weberman didn't solely result from a Flatbush therapist who reported the reports of abuse to authorities as required by law. It started when the 12 year old girl, Ms. Kraus, was referred to religious therapy after she posed unanswerable questions in school. She seemed to have gone off the derekh at that time and developed a tryst with a similarly freewheeling young man by the name of Solomon. This is where Mr. Weberman, as a self-proclaimed psychological guru and maven, entered the picture. Apart from the alleged sexual affair with the girl, he also tried to break up her relationship with Solomon, to which end he reported is to the police as statutory rape. Solomon was arrested and endured several agonizing weeks until the case was dropped for unknown reasons.
In the meantime, the religious therapy wasn't quite successful in steering the girl back on track. She subsequently formed a relationship with Buri Deutsch a bachelor restaurateur in the community. Outraged over the emotional scars left on his girlfriend and Mr. Weberman's high-handed tactics, including his vicious reporting of Solomon to the authorities, Mr. Deutsch decided to speak up against the perv and take action which explains his girlfriend's cooperation with the prosecution despite overwhelming communal pressure that they drop the charges.
Even as this article is being written. Mr Deutsch and a group of sympathizers are staging a rally in support of the girl and against the fundraising campaign for Weberman's legal defense. The event on Facebook has 119 people confirmed as "going".