November 27, 2012
A child rape case involving a prominent rabbi accused of assaulting a teenage girl is casting a light on the harsh rules of a Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
Nechemya Weberman is accused of fondling a young girl and forcing her to perform oral sex on him over the course of many years beginning when she was 12.
Prosecutors say the girl's parents sent their rebellious daughter to him for counseling after she broke several rules of the strict Satmar Hasidic sect, including reading magazines like Cosmopolitan and People and wearing stockings that were too thin.
Rabbi Weberman, a respected leader of the small community, was supposed to be re-indoctrinating the girl and bringing her back to the ultra-conservative standards of the community after she was branded a 'heretic.'
Instead, she told a counselor years later, he was abusing her.
'When you think about it,' assistant district attorney Kevin O’Donnell said, the alleged victim's parents 'were actually paying the defendant to have sex with their daughter.'
O'Donnell added that Weberman abused the girl, now age 17, 'over and over again.'
The rabbi's lawyers are fiercely denying the allegations. They say the girl made up the story to retaliate against him.
They say the girl went to police only after Weberman and her parents set up hidden cameras to secretly record the girl having sex with her boyfriend when she was still underage.
Weberman turned the tapes over to police in the hopes that the boyfriend would be prosecuted.
The charges against the boyfriend were later dropped.
Weberman's lawyers also claim that he had been business partners with the girl's parents and that the families had a falling out.
The Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has rallied around the rabbi - sponsoring fundraisers to pay for his legal defense.
Weberman is charged with 88 counts of sex assault.