N.Y. Orthodox Jewish counselor gets 103 years for sex abuse

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The court received dozens of letters from supporters of the defendant. They described his life in the community as a counselor and a father, and many proclaimed his innocence.

One said that jailing Weberman would be “a loss of great magnitude for our family, in particular, to mankind in general.”

Weberman said “no thank you” when asked if he wished to speak. He and his wife had no visible reaction to the sentence.

Nechemya Weberman is innocent of the crimes charged,” defense attorney George Farkas insisted at the sentencing. They said they would appeal immediately. “He stands ready to be vindicated.”

As Weberman was being led from the courtroom in handcuffs, he looked toward his family and other supporters, smiled and nodded. The top charge carried a sentence of 25 years; he got consecutive terms for some of the other lesser charges.

The defense argued that the girl was angry that Weberman had told her parents she had a boyfriend at age 15, forbidden in her community. Defense attorney Stacey Richman said the case boiled down to a simple “he said, she said,” and the girl was a petulant, calculating liar.

“The only evidence in this case of sexual abuse is the word of” the accuser, Ms. Richman told jurors. “She’s making things up in front of you as they occur.”

But the jury took just hours to convict Weberman on all counts on Dec. 10.

The Satmar sect is one faction clustered mostly in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. The group has its own ambulances, volunteer police and rabbinical courts, and they are discouraged from going to secular authorities.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said he hoped the case would persuade other victims to come forward. Mr. Hynes has been accused of overlooking crimes in the community because he was too cozy with powerful rabbis, a charge he vehemently denies.

Judge Ingram on Tuesday urged detractors to leave the girl alone to live a good life with her husband.

“This cannot be tolerated in a free society,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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