NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The plot thickened in the sex abuse trial of a prominent Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish leader during testimony on Thursday.
The attorney for 54-year-old Nechemya Weberman is pursing a revenge theory, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
Defense lawyer Michael Farkus suggested that the now-17-year-old accuser, who said the counselor sexually abused her for three years, made it all up.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports
Farkus claimed Thursday that the now-married teen fabricated the charges to get back at Weberman for betraying her confidence.
The defense pointed out that one day after she told Weberman she was romantically involved with a boyfriend, which is strictly forbidden in the Satmar community, her father had the boy arrested.
What the jury did not hear in court was that the father followed Weberman’s suggestion to install a hidden camera to spy on his daughter’s romantic encounters with the boy, Cornell reported.
The charges against the young man were later dropped.
Nearly 100 observers from the Orthodox Jewish community were ordered out of the courtroom Thursday afternoon to have their cell phones confiscated.
The angry judge scolded the observers, saying a crime was committed inside the courtroom when people snapped cell phone pictures of the sex abuse accuser as she testified.
Four men, identified as supporters of Weberman, were arrested on charges they photographed the accuser as she testified.
One of the images was posted on Twitter, though the girl’s name was not included.
The four face contempt charges for taking pictures in a courtroom without a court order.
“This trial is getting crazy,” a court officer said during the brief interruption.
The victim took the stand on Tuesday and Wednesday, detailing sexual abuse she said she endured from the time she was just 12 years old in 2007 through 2010.
“He proceeded to kiss me. He touched me…I yelled for him to stop. He said, ‘You see, if you yell stop, I stop. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not doing anything you don’t want me to do,'” the victim said Tuesday.
But she said despite her resistance, Weberman continued to molest her.
“Saying stop didn’t seem to work….I didn’t know how to fight back. I was numb,” the teen said.
At one point, the teen said she stopped eating for three days. The accuser said she was so depressed she couldn’t even talk to Weberman.
The teen also described another incident in which she claimed Weberman came to her home.
“He got into bed with me and I wanted to die,” the teen stated in court on Tuesday.
She said she eventually was able to tell a school counselor what was taking place.
Weberman has pleaded not guilty to charges of committing a criminal sex act, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse.
Lawyers for Weberman have argued that the allegations being brought against their client are false.
Weberman is expected to testify in his own defense this week.
Earlier this year, a controversial fundraiser was held in the Hasidic community to raise Weberman’s legal funds.
But on Wednesday, the victim’s family said there seems to have been a change in the Satmar community’s view of the case. The teen’s aunt said many have come out in support of the victim.
“God forbid there are other children who are abused and molested, this is a message to all children to speak up because we are not going to allow it and that’s the main thing – that she is suffering so much,” Giddy Goldman told Cornell.
Victim advocate Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz said Wednesday that it is a sign that attitudes within the community are evolving.
“Look around the courtroom and you’ll see that things are changing. When we had Weberman’s first hearing, we had about 15, 20 people. Now we have a packed courtroom, people are waiting in the halls,” Horowitz told Cornell.
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