The New York Criminal Law Blog

Rabbi Weberman's Sex Abuse Trial Starts, Sans Sex Tape

The accuser was described as a curious and free-spirited 12-year-old when the alleged abuse began. In the Hasidic Jewish community, where questions about the proper length of a skirt could lead to mandatory counseling, she was bound to run into some trouble at her religious school and in the community.

According to The New York Times, that trouble led to mandatory counseling sessions with Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, 54, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. What happened in those sessions is the disputed matter that led to eighty-eight sex abuse charges.

The girl claimed that for three years, she was sexually molested and repeatedly forced to perform oral sex on Weberman. The rabbi claims that this is all a revenge plot for his actions regarding her boyfriend.

When her parents found out about the boyfriend, the victim allegedly blamed Weberman. Weberman and the victim's father taped her having sex with the boyfriend as well, as they were hoping to use the tape to convince the authorities to bring statutory rape charges against the boyfriend.

The bad news for Weberman is that the tape will not be allowed at trial, reports the New York Post. The reason for the exclusion is the Rape Shield Law, which prevents the defendant from parading the accuser's sexual history on the stand.

Without the tape, Weberman will have a difficult time supporting his revenge defense. One wonders if the mention of the tape is a sound strategy - jurors might not sympathize with a defendant who recorded an underage girl having sex. Instead, the defense will probably focus on his positive reputation in the community and of course, they will probably attack the character of his alleged victim.

The trial is expected to last through the end of this week. According to the Times, the accuser will take the stand today. Rabbi Weberman will testify in his own defense as early as Thursday.

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