The trial of of accused sexual abuser Rabbi Nechemya Weberman is underway. I thought I would post a few of my thoughts about it. First let me excerpt the following quote by Anna C. Salter PhD from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz’s website:
1. It is perhaps not surprising that predators who have never been arrested are so successful in fooling people. They simply take on the lifestyle and manner of genuinely nice people, and it is understandable, if tragic, that we can’t tell the difference.
2. It is a misconception that child molesters are somehow different from the rest of us, outside their proclivities to molest. They can be loyal friends, good employees, and responsible members of the community in other ways.
3. Offender self-reports have dubious validity, especially when the offender’s self-interest is at stake. The only rule for deception in sex offenders I have ever found is this: If it is in the offender’s best interest to lie, and if he can do it and not get caught, he will lie.
I have little doubt about Rabbi Weberman’s guilt. And I am encouraged by the over 40 people who have so far shown up at the trial to show support for the victim. I am also encouraged by the number of people who have responded to the request by Rabbi Horowitz to post a comment on his website in support of the victim. I encourage everyone to do so. She can use all the support she can get. Her character is being attacked. It is a typical ploy of defense attorneys to attack the character of an accuser at trial so as to undermine their credibility.
I posted a comment of my own there. It isn’t much but it’s the least I can do in support of a victim of sex abuse. I am also glad to see the name of Rabbi Chaim Twersky, one of the Roshei Yeshiva of HTC in that list of commenters. He posted a comment of support for the victim. That takes courage. He is one of my local heroes for many reasons. He just added another one by doing that.
Bearing in mind the American tradition of innocent until proven guilty, I will wait until the end of the trial to pass final judgment. But the facts of the case are so revealing that one would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to think this man is innocent. And yet his community and its rabbinic leadership is either all of those… or they simply don’t care. That’s why they had a fund-raiser for a supposed defense fund and raised a half million dollars. Which they promptly used to try and bribe the victim to drop the charges and leave the country.
Not only was the victim not tempted to take that money, but the four Chasidim who tried to bribe her were arrested for trying to do that. Thank God! These “good people” will probably serve some time for their “altruism.” And their families will suffer. I’m sure that there will be fundraisers for them too with all kind of appeals to sympathy for the plight of these “Frum” Jews and their families. And of course there will be attendant accusations of Antisemitism that are always attached to the courts if they are convicted and sent to prison. But that’s another conversation.
One of the things almost always heard – especially in places like Williamsburg (where Rabbi Weberman lives) is that one should never believe an accuser that is no longer observant. Especially when she is rebelling from the very community that she accuses of sex abuse and protecting the abuser. That is in fact the exact argument being made by the defense. From theNew York Times:
Lawyers for Mr. Weberman, however, argue that the young woman fabricated the allegations because she was furious at Mr. Weberman for what she thought was a betrayal of her trust. At age 15, they said, she had revealed to Mr. Weberman that she had a boyfriend — a serious breach of the community’s stringent rules — and then, a defense lawyer said, she concluded that he told her parents about it.
“There was only one answer,” said George Farkas, the defense lawyer, “vengeance and revenge against Nechemya Weberman, and through this, to bring down the entire community that either supported him, or of which he was a part.”