NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are some shocking allegations against a counselor and confidant in a Brooklyn community. A therapist stands accused of sexually abusing a young girl who looked to him for advice.
However, not everyone thinks he’s guilty. As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Tuesday, there’s outrage over support for alleged abuser.
The culturally colorful streets of Williamsburg now have a bit more color — posters in Hebrew, urging support for a counselor charged with abusing one of his clients, starting when the girl was 12.
“I would not support him. No, no, no, no,” resident Yoel Chajmodicz said.
But many Chasidim will support him. The defendant is Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, who pleaded not guilty last year to committing a criminal sex act, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse after a 16-year-old girl told police that during counseling sessions the 53-year-old forced her to perform lewd sex acts.
However, in this community, people like Bella Hiller support the fundraising poster, saying it’s too easy to make up accusations. When asked if she believes Weberman rather than the 16-year-old girl, Hiller told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey on Tuesday night, “Of course. Wouldn’t you?”
CBS 2’s Slattery went to Weberman’s building on Tuesday, but the building manager said he was not available.
“He says to speak to his lawyer,” the man at the door told Slattery.
The posters promote a Wednesday fundraiser for Weberman’s defense fund, but there is a rumbling of opposition, which one victims’ advocate explained.
“The suggestion is that this victim, by going to the authorities and reporting the abuse, is attacking the entire community,” said Ben Hirsch of the group, “Survivors for Justice.” “I believe one of the posters shows a missile coming down on the community. The missile is, of course, the victim and the community is everyone alongside the accused.
“They’re saying worse than she should shut up; they’re saying she’s a menace, a danger to the community, needs to be shunned and thrown away.”
Weberman’s attorney said everyone is entitled to a strong defense.
“What’s wrong with having a fundraiser if you believe that a person who is falsely accused? Everywhere you go with these people that are opposed to it. They are condemning him as a molester. They don’t wait for the process to work itself out in court,” George Farkas said. “Possibly the worst thing that can happen to a person, worse than child abuse itself, is to be falsely accused of it.”
CBS 2 has reported extensively on the sex abuse issue in the ultra Orthodox community and the increasing criticism over the way District Attorney Charles Hynes handles cases. There have been charges that he has a cozy relationship with rabbinical leadership. Unlike other DAs, he refuses to release the names of alleged abusers, a practice CBS 2 has legally challenged.
“It’s a civil rights statute that precludes us from identifying the people,” Hynes said recently.
While some said Hynes is being influence by political rabbis, Hynes said that’s not the case. In fact, Hynes said this is a case in which he went after a prominent figure. The defense attorney said Weberman would not consider pleading to a lesser charge.
“He’s not interested. He’s not pleading to anything he didn’t do,” Farkas said.
What do you make of the fundraiser? Sound off in our comments section below.