'I thought they would never believe me since he was supposedly a god in Williamsburg'
- Last Updated: 5:59 AM, December 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:43 AM, December 1, 2012
She would have been exiled from the only world she had ever known.
The teen accusing a prominent Hasidic leader of molesting her testified yesterday that she had hid the years of abuse so she wouldn’t be banished by her parents and the rest of their insular Brooklyn community.
“Satmar would have kicked me out, and if Satmar kicks you out, nobody accepts you,” the stoic 17-year-old woman told a rapt jury — providing a rare glimpse into the secret culture of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidim.
“No one in Williamsburg would accept me.”
Prosecutors say Nechemya Weberman, on trial for alleged molestation in Brooklyn, began abusing her during counseling sessions when she was just 12.
She never told her parents or school because she would have been cast out of the Hasidic community, she testified.
“I thought they would never believe me, since he was supposedly a god in Williamsburg,” she said.
When asked her status in her community at the time, 2007 to 2010, the teen replied, “Nothing. Just someone sitting there.”
When asked her status at school, she said, “A piece of dirt.”
The teen has allegedly faced intimidation and harassment since she went public with charges against Weberman, highly respected in the Satmar sect.
She said she feared Weberman because of his role in a powerful group that demands Jews in the community to follow religious rules and dress codes.
“Is part of the reason you didn’t say anything because he was Vaad Ha’Tnius?” Assistant District Attorney Kevin O’Donnell asked, referring to the group.
“Yes,” she answered.
Marcos Masri, 29, an Orthodox Jew who lives in Williamsburg, said, “Vaad Ha’Tnius is a terrorist group in the community.”
“Anybody who goes outside the rules of the Hasidic community, they will terrorize them.”
Defense lawyers say Weberman did nothing wrong.
They claim the teen accused Weberman in retaliation for a bizarre incident in which he and her father secretly filmed her having sex with her boyfriend — a claim that has been barred from mention in the trial.
The teen, who recently married, strode into court yesterday in a grey dress and black Ugg boots, carrying the green rubber stress ball she has squeezed every day of her testimony.
She cried for the first time in four days of testimony when she graphically recounted the things she says Weberman made her do.
Her husband nervously waited for her outside the courtroom — unable to attend because he may be called as a witness. He comforted her during trial recesses.
In one particularly chilling story, the teen recounted how Weberman told her how he had watched her playing as a child.
“He said he used to watch, and he said he always had a feeling I was going to go to him and he couldn’t wait,” she recalled.
Much of the teen’s testimony spoke to the powerless role she held in Hasidic Brooklyn.
She also testified that after she finally reported Weberman to police in 2010, she wrote a letter to the school saying she was “the girl they put through hell for three years” and, “They should do better for girls who wanted to speak up in the future.”
The teen testified earlier this week that she was sent to Weberman for counseling after she talked to a boy and got into trouble at school for not following strict dress codes.
Because the Satmar sect provides no sex education for women until shortly before they marry, she said she didn’t understand what Weberman was doing.
The trial ended at 2 p.m. so participants could return home for Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
Weberman is expected to take the stand in his own defense next week.