(JNS.org) In a high-profile court case, a New York State Supreme Court jury in Brooklyn found 54-year-old Nechemya Weberman, of the Hassidic Satmar Jewish community, guilty on 59 counts of sexual abuse of a child and endangering the welfare of a child, the New York Times reported.
Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, was accused by a young woman of sexual abuse occurring between the ages of 12-15 during counseling with Weberman.
The case was a significant milestone for New York prosecutors, who have had difficulty prosecuting sexual abuse cases within ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Many in the Satmar community, whose members are generally highly suspicious of outside interference, believe that matters such as sexual abuse should be handled by their private rabbinic court, or beit din. Accusers and witnesses are sometimes intimidated through bribery and threats to back down from going to secular authorities.
“The veil of secrecy has been lifted,” said Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney.
“The wall that has existed in parts of these communities has now been broken through. And as far as I’m concerned, it is very clear to me that it is only going to get better for people who are victimized in these various communities,” Hynes said.
Weberman faces at least 25 years in prison and his sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 9.