By Oren Yaniv (NY Daily News)
December 4, 2012
A once-respected Hasidic counselor accused of sexually assaulting a Brooklyn girl is expected to take the stand in his own defense Wednesday .
Nechemya Weberman, 54, is accused by the teenager of forcing her to perform oral sex and reenact porn during three years of spiritual counseling that started when she was 12.
Tuesday’s witnesses represented the torturous journey of the alleged victim — who turns 18 Wednesday — from a student who rebelled against the strict modesty rules at her Satmar school to a “depressed” teen who reported the purported abuse. In December 2010, social worker Sarah Fried testified in Brooklyn Supreme Court, the “very anxious” girl recounted her “trauma.”
“At the end of the session, she uttered the words ‘I was molested,’” Fried testified, “then ran out of the office.”
It wasn’t until February 2011 that the girl named Weberman - an accusation the defense contends was motivated by revenge upon learning the counselor set up her boyfriend to be arrested.
The teen ended up at Weberman’s home office in 2007 after having trouble at her school, where the thickness of her tights was constantly examined.
“Her modesty was not like the other girls’,” said Benzion Feuerwerger, the principal of the girls school at United Talmudic Academy in Williamsburg.
He added that the school demanded the girl’s parents pay $12,800, mostly as an upfront fee for Weberman’s services, if they wanted their daughter to stay enrolled.
The principal, who said he had no secondary education beyond yeshivas, was also asked if he knows about Va’ad Hatznius, a Hasidic squad that enforces modesty rules and to which prosecutors say Weberman belongs.
“It doesn’t exist, as far as I know,” Feuerwerger said, to gasps in the packed courtroom. The modesty patrol is a well-known presence in the Satmar community.
Having Weberman take the stand is tactic that’s not without risks. During pretrial hearings last summer, prosecutors claimed six other women have made allegations against the defendant, but none agreed to press charges, which barred them from addressing the jury.
Under exceptional circumstances, court insiders said, Weberman's testimony might open the door to allow other alleged victims to be heard.