Nechemya Weberman, a prominent member of Brooklyn’s Satmar chassidic community who practiced therapy without a license, was found guilty on 59 counts of sexual abuse.
Weberman, 54, was convicted Monday by a New York State Supreme Court jury for encounters he had with a female patient when she was between the ages of 12 and 15. He was charged initially on 88 counts, but the number was consolidated by Justice John Ingram, who presided over the case.
No physical evidence was presented during the trial, effectively leaving the prosecution to make the case based on the credibility of the accuser’s testimony. The encounters started in 2007; the accuser turned 18 last week.
The girl’s parents sent her for sessions to Weberman at the recommendation of the child’s school.
According to the New York Daily News, the girl was referred for not meeting her sect’s strict modesty guidelines regarding women’s dress and asking questions about the existence of God.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind hopes the verdict will help break through the wall of silence that has long surrounded abuse in many Orthodox communities.
“As someone who has been involved in this issue from the beginning, I am encouraged by this young lady’s courage in standing up for herself,” said Hikind. “I am hopeful that if other young people believe themselves to be victims of abuse that they too will come forward. Silence only protects the guilty.”
(JTA, Jewish Press staff)