NEW YORK (AP):
An esteemed religious counsellor in New York City's ultra-orthodox Jewish community was sentenced yesterday to 103 years in prison for molesting a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.
Nechemya Weberman was convicted in December of 59 counts, including sustained sexual abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse. He testified in his own defence, saying he "never, ever" abused the girl, and maintained his innocence at sentencing.
satmar hasidic community
His trial put a spotlight on the ultra-orthodox community and its strict rules that govern clothing, social customs and interaction with the outside world. Brooklyn is home to the largest community of ultra-orthodox Jews outside Israel, more than 250,000. Both Weberman, 54, and the accuser belonged to the Satmar Hasidic sect there.
The girl's school had ordered her to see Weberman because she had been asking questions about her religion and was dressing immodestly in violation of customs, and he was to help her get back on the right path. Weberman wasn't a licensed counselor but spent decades working with couples and families in his community.
The accuser, now 18, had testified that Weberman abused her repeatedly behind his locked office door from the time she was 12 until she was 15.