There are lots of cases of Christian clergy sexual abuse, there are lots of cases of Muslim child molestation, but there aren’t that many cases of Jewish religious minor rape, although they certainly do happen. Here’s a case right now.
In Brooklyn, New York, in the largest Hassidic Jewish community in the country, Nechemya Weberman has been found guilty on 59 felony counts of sexually abusing a teenage girl, reportedly forcing her to re-enact porn scenes. It’s made somewhat worse by the fact that Nechemya Weberman sits on the secretive Satmar Hassidic council dedicated to imposing morality on the young.
The girl, who has remained unnamed because of her age, reports that the abuse started in 2007 at the age of 12, when the girl started attending sessions in his home office with Weberman, an unlicensed Jewish “therapist”, he started showing her porn videos and demanding that she re-enact scenes. Her only “crime” was violating the secretive sect’s rules, she asked questions about her faith, started dressing “immodestly” and got interested in boys. The horror! During the 3-year “relationship”, she was forced to perform oral sex on Weberman and masturbate for him, all the while her parents were paying him nearlt $13,000 in fees which he admits he used to fund his children’s schooling and buy lingerie.
There are now other girls who have started coming forward with claims of abuse toward Weberman. To date, no other charges have been filed as girls are terrified of being ejected from the secretive group for talking to outside authorities.
Perhaps worse, we’ve seen several other Hassidic Jews trying to bribe the girl to drop the case and when that didn’t work, to intimidate her by posting pictures of her on the Internet. Three ultra-orthodox Jewish men were arraigned on charges of witness tampering and intimidation, one of them, Joseph Fried, stated, “Even if it’s true, he shouldn’t go to jail, a Jew doesn’t belong in jail.” Fried and several others are accused of offering a $500,000 bribe to the girl and her new husband to make the case go away and when that didn’t work, they stripped the kosher certification from her husband’s restaurant in order to make life difficult on them.
“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.”
Weberman was found guilty on all 59 charges, which included counts of sustained sexual abuse of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. He faces a maximum of 117 years in prison. Sentencing occurs early next year.
This is what happens when the outside world is not allowed, or is afraid to look closely at religious groups, when people think religion ought to be left alone to operate as it sees fit, you get abuse occurring and you get the community trying desperately to keep it’s problems internal. This has happened with the Catholic Church, whose official policy was never to report sexual abuse cases to the police but to have it handled in secret church trials, this is more the norm than the exception.
How much longer until we stop allowing religion to get away with things that no other group would ever achieve?