Victim in Sex Abuse Trial of Prominent Orthodox Leader Nechemya Weberman: 'I wanted to die rather than live with myself'
By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
November 27, 2012
Speaking softly but confidently, a Brooklyn girl took the stand Tuesday and recounted three years of sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her Hasidic spiritual counselor.
“I wanted to die rather than live with myself,” the 17-year-old said as she described alleged and disturbing assaults —including oral sex — by Nechemya Weberman, 54. She said the attacks started when she was just 12. "I didn't know how to fight. I was numb."
Her tale began in the sixth grade while she attended a strict yeshiva. She asked questions about God’s existence and flouted modesty rules requiring her to wear long skirts and thick tights.
“I was sent to the principal’s office every day because my tights weren't thick enough,” she said in a jam-packed courtroom at Brooklyn Supreme Court.
After being labeled a “heretic,” she was sent to Weberman for counseling at his home office. The sessions lasted up to four hours each, multiple times a week.
The teen testified she was forced to perform oral sex or be touched inappropriately behind locked doors every time she saw Weberman. The alleged abuse lasted from March 2007 until March 2010.
The teen’s testimony is the key evidence in a high-stakes case against Weberman, a prominent counselor in the insular Satmar sect who denies any wrongdoing.
The witness didn't waver as defense lawyer Michael Farkas tried to show inconsistencies between her testimony and statements she made to police when bringing the charges in February 2011.
She acknowledged she confided in Weberman and said he used to listen to her religious doubts.
The girl told prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell her coming forward — which is strongly discouraged in the close-knit Jewish community she has since left — was a sacrifice for her and her family. She was intimidated, her father lost his business and her nieces got kicked out of school, she testified.
"Have you gained anything?" O'Donnell asked.
"Peace," she replied.