Rabbi Guilty of 59 Counts of Sexual Abuse of 12 Year Old Girl

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New York's ultra-orthodox Jewish community was rocked Monday  as a religious counselor for the insular sect was convicted of 59 counts for sexually abusing a young girl.

Rabbi Nechemya Weberman was accused of fondling a teenager, forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and making her act out porn films, over the course of many years beginning when she was 12.

Weberman, led away in handcuffs after the verdict was read, faces 25 years in prison for the worst of the charges and two to seven years on lesser charges.

It took jurors a day and a half to decide the case, and defense attorneys are already vowing an appeal.

'We firmly believe that the jury got an unfairly sanitized version of the facts,' said attorney George Farkas. 'As a result, the truth did not come out and the struggle continues in full force to free this innocent man.'

Weberman was charged with 88 counts of sexual abuse and assault.

The trial cast a harsh light on the rules of the secretive community.

Prosecutors say the girl's parents sent their rebellious daughter to him for counselling after she broke several rules of the sect, including reading magazines like Cosmopolitan and People and wearing stockings that were too thin.

Rabbi Weberman was supposed to be re-indoctrinating the girl and bringing her back to the ultra-conservative standards of the community after she was branded a 'heretic.'

Instead, she told a counsellor years later, that he was abusing her.

'When you think about it,' assistant district attorney Kevin O’Donnell said, the alleged victim's parents 'were actually paying the defendant to have sex with their daughter.'

O'Donnell added that Weberman abused the girl, now age 17, 'over and over again.'

Her family paid him $12,800 in counseling fees during that time, the victim's mother testified Monday.

'I wanted to die rather than live with myself,' the accuser, who's identity has not been made public, testified. 'I didn't know how to fight. I was numb.'

The rabbi's lawyers fiercely denied the allegations. They say the girl made up the story to retaliate against him.

They claimed the girl went to police only after Weberman and her parents set up hidden cameras to secretly record the girl having sex with her boyfriend when she was still underage.

Weberman turned the tapes over to police in the hopes that the boyfriend would be prosecuted.

The charges against the boyfriend were later dropped.

Weberman's lawyers also claim that he had been business partners with the girl's parents and that the families had a falling out.

The Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, rallied around the rabbi - sponsoring fundraisers to pay for his legal defense.

The community numbers around 250,000 - the largest sect of its type outside of Israel.

Weberman's supporters were so protective of him they disrupted the course of the trial when they allegedly photographed the accuser during her testimony.

Four men were led out of a New York court room and arrested in late November after jumping up to take pictures of her on their phones while she gave evidence.

Each was a members of the strict Satmar sect in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, of which Rabbi Weberman is leader.

One image of the girl was even posted to a Twitter account. 

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