By Joanna Molloy (NY Daily News)
January 23, 2013
The victim looked like a typical teenager in her peach sparkly top, short black skirt, tights and Ugg boots — a stylish getup that somehow still satisfied Hasidic rules of modesty. But the 18-year-old may as well have been wearing a cape as she confronted her sexual predator at his sentencing in Brooklyn Criminal Court Tuesday.
Nechemya Weberman, her trusted counselor, had sexually molested her as often as four times a week — starting when she was 12, when she should have been worried about nothing more than the homework in her teddy bear backpack.
But thanks to her slimeball counselor, the "normal young teenage life" the little girl longed for was replaced with repulsion every time she looked in the mirror.
Instead of her reflection, she told the courtroom she saw "a sad girl" who was stuck being victimized by a 50-year-old pervert — her forthright tone turning to tears when she spoke his age. She saw the sickening acts she was forced to perform for his pleasure again and again.
And when she saw the scars the covered her body from where he'd burned her with candle wax "to serve his sadistic pleasure," she said, "I would get flashbacks and feel my body burning all over again."
The relentless reliving of the trauma, the nightmares, the depression that the young victim described in court Tuesday are classic symptoms of a child who has been sexually assaulted, says a 2007 study by the American Prosecutors Research Institute of the National District Attorneys Association.
But what makes this heroic girl different is that she came forward.
"Sexual victimization [is] among the most severe and underreported crimes in the United States," says the study. "The underreporting of these crimes is not surprising given that victims are often re-victimized when they are forced to endure the investigation and prosecution. Societal attitudes may also ... have an impact on victims' psychological states."
Indeed, this girl was vilified in her insular Satmar Hasidic community, where, prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell said Tuesday "she was treated like a piece of dirt ... and (Weberman) like a god."
Still, she bravely came forward.
The Daily News' Oren Yaniv reported Sunday that Weberman had allegedly molested as many as 10 girls and women over the years. Yet only she came forward.
"Many were too scared ... but we were all one voice, as they were with me in spirit," she told Judge John Ingram on Tuesday.
A Brooklyn jury heard that voice, convicting Weberman on 59 counts of sexual abuse against a minor in December. And Tuesday, Judge Ingram heard that voice again. He sentenced Weberman to 103 years in jail.
The gavel went down and the young woman, who married last year, ran up to a superhero of her own, prosecutor O'Donnell, whose team she thanked for pulling all-nighters to fight the case.
I asked her how she felt about the sentence, and through her tears she could only say one word: "Happy."
And you wanted so much happiness for this beauty who said in her speech, "I have suffered so much as a young girl but I somehow came out as a strong woman."
Superstrong. And the girl who was first sent to Weberman for breaking the rules for girls in the Satmar sect is now departing from tradition again by attending college.
Get ready for another fighter, Brooklyn. She's majoring in criminal justice.