BROOKLYN, NY (PIX11) — An Orthodox Jewish teen finished four days of testimony Friday in the sex molestation case against her former counselor, a day after an angry judge lashed out at spectators who were taking cell phone pictures in court—and posting them on the web.
The 17 year old girl—who testified she was just 12, when Nechemya Weberman started forcing her to perform oral sex in his office, during counseling sessions, told prosecutors why she decided to press charges, despite intimidation from her Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg. “I felt like I had a responsibility,” the thin, blonde-haired teen said, “If I didn’t stop him, he would continue doing it to other people. I didn’t want other girls to go through what I went through.”
Judge John Ingram was furious on Thursday, when he learned courtroom photos of the teen’s testimony were turning up on the Internet. Four spectators, carrying a combined nine cell phones, had their phones confiscated. The judge told them, “This is not some sporting event where people can bring their phones to take photos. It is against the law.” The judge continued, “This is on the Internet now. It’s probably streamed all over the world.”
The Weberman case gained notoriety earlier this year, when fundraising posters for his criminal defense started appearing in Williamsburg. Then, in June, four, Orthodox Jewish men from the Satmar community were arrested, accused of trying to bribe the woman’s family to drop the case, in exchange for half a million dollars.
The teen’s uncle, Ari Rubenstein, spoke to PIX 11 Friday. “She’s going to save a lot of kids in our community,” Rubenstein said. “The fact the community is intimidating people, all it does is tell the molesters, ‘I’m protected.’” Rubenstein went on to say, however, that his niece is gaining support from as far away as Australia and Israel. But he said local Orthodox Jews who dare to go to court face repercussions. “A woman sitting in court, here to support the victim, that same day her husband got a call,” Rubenstein told PIX. “He was going to lose his job.”
A couple of representatives from N.O.W.—the National Organization for Women—turned up in court Friday. “We are outraged, absolutely outraged, about what took place in this courtroom,” Sonia Ossorio of N.O.W. told PIX 11. She added the women’s rights group is concerned about the oppressive world that females live under, in ultra-Orthodox religious communities.
The young accuser in this case testified in graphic detail, earlier this week, about three years of sexual molestation that began with oral sex and escalated to intercourse. “She didn’t even know what sex was all about,” her uncle said.
Weberman has pleaded “not guilty” and defense attorneys are trying to show the teen’s memory is spotty, also suggesting her sister had business dealings with Weberman that went bad.