103-year Sentence is What Weberman Had Coming

NY Daily News
January 24, 2013

Justice arrived surely and sternly for child sex abuser Nechemya Weberman, thanks to an effective prosecution by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Give him and his office credit — without forgetting that it has taken far too long for victims of sex crimes in the borough’s Hasidic community to have their prosecutor fully in their corner.

Let this welcome change be a permanent one.

Weberman, 54, was sentenced Tuesday to 103 years in prison for repeatedly preying upon a young girl, starting when she was just 12.

She fell into his power when her school told her parents to send her to Weberman for counseling. At their sessions, he forced her to perform oral sex and reenact scenes from pornographic videos.

She was victimized again last year when, gathering the immense courage it took to speak out, she and her family were vilified and ostracized.

That was standard operating procedure in a tightly knit community that typically considered it a betrayal to take accusations of sex crimes to police rather than handling them internally.

(Translation of “handling them internally”: quashing the allegations.)

It was a poisonous habit that, for far too long, Hynes did little to combat.

For years, the DA went along as influential Hasidic rabbis discouraged victims from going to the police. His office shielded the names of select defendants — some even after they were convicted.

Beginning in 2009 and escalating into last year, Hynes’ chronic hesitation was exposed. The DA insisted he would do better. That is why the Weberman sentence matters. Hynes pushed, and he won. A new message is emerging across all Brooklyn neighborhoods: Regardless of creed or race or connections, sex crimes will be punished.

And one brave young woman has won some small measure of vindication too long denied.

“I clearly remember how I would look in the mirror,” said the victim, now 18. “I saw a girl who didn’t want to live in her own skin, a girl whose innocence was shattered, a girl who couldn’t sleep at night because of the gruesome invasion that had been done to her body.” May she and many others sleep a little better from now on.