Hasidic Leader Sentenced to 103 Years for Sex Abuse

Prominent Orthodox leader Nechemya Weberman (center) at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after being found guilty of 59 counts of sexual abuse. The conviction of a prominent member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community on 59 counts of sexually abusing a schoolgirl stands as an important use of the criminal law in a defiantly insular culture. A jury credited her description of Weberman as a predator, and it rejected his claim that she had accused him in revenge for a scheme to have her boyfriend charged with statutory rape. Based on the evidence, the finding appeared a well-justified conclusion for which punishment must, and will, be severe. That said, had the jury acquitted Weberman, the case would still have been a landmark. On its own, trying him established that the law will be equally and fairly applied to all. L-R: Defense Attorney Michael Farkas, Nechemya Weberman, defense attorney George Farkas.
Photo: Jesse Ward/New York Daily News

Brooklyn Hasidic counselor Nechemya Weberman was sentenced today to 103 years in prison out of a possible 117 for the ongoing sexual abuse of a young patient. A leader in the Satmar ultra-Orthodox community, the unlicensed Weberman was found guilty last month of 59 counts spanning three years, beginning when the victim was 12. While the New York Times reports that Weberman "did not react" during the sentencing, the victim, who was sent to therapy with Weberman to become more religious, gave a statement requesting the maximum punishment.

She described herself as "a girl who didn't want to live in her own skin" during the abuse, and said, "I would cry until the tears went dry." The victim's family was allegedly threatened and offered a $500,000 bribe not to pursue the case, which was watched closely because of the ongoing intimidation and as "the first high-profile child sexual abuse case brought by the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, against a member of the politically powerful Satmar ultra-Orthodox community in his more than two decades in office," the Times notes.

"If there is one message to take away from this case, it is that this office will pursue the evil of sexual abuse of a child no matter where it occurs in this county," said Hynes in a statement. "We must protect our children from sexual predators. The abuse of a child cannot be swept under the rug or dealt with by insular groups believing only they know what is best for their community."