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Four More Hasids Accused Of Interfering With Orthodox Sex Abuse Trial

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For the second time this year, four Orthodox Jews have been arrested for allegedly interfering in the trial of prominent Jewish leader/”therapist” Nechemya Weberman, who allegedly sexually abused one of his patients for
several years, starting when the girl was only 12 years old.

The four men arrested allegedly took photos of the victim as she testified in front of a Brooklyn jury yesterday, presumably to intimidate the girl. One of the photos ended up on Twitter.

The four men — Lemon Juice, 30, Joseph Fried, 23, Yona Weisman, 23, and Abraham Zupnick, 23 — are all members of the insular Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism based in Williamsburgh, of which Weberman is a leader.

State Supreme Court Justice John Ingram scolded the four men, reportedly
telling them “You know about the Torah, you know about rabbinical
courts. This is a
civil court! Your phones will be held for possible criminal
prosecution. You may wish to avail yourself of counsel.”

Ingram
then ordered that everyone surrender their phones while they’re in the
courtroom — a policy that typically is reserved for gang trials.

This
is now the second time that Weberman’s followers have interfered with
the trial in an attempt to intimidate the victim and other witnesses.

In
June, four other men were indicted on charges that they attempted to
persuade/intimidate witnesses into not testifying against Weberman.

Abraham Rubin, 48, was hit with several charges including four counts
of bribing a witness, two counts of tampering with a witness in the
fourth degree and one count of coercion in the second degree. Three
brothers, Joseph, Jacob and Hertzka Berger, face additional charges for
attempting to intimidate the witness — according to authorities, they
threatened to remove the rabbi-issued kosher certification from the
witness’ restaurant, and Jacob Berger physically went to the business
and tore the kosher certificate off the wall.

The indictments were the first stemming from Project Kol Tzedek, a
task force set up by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office aimed at
helping
sex-crime victims in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish Communities to report
abuse. According to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, because of
the “insular nature” of Orthodox Jewish communities, and victims who
are
reluctant to report crimes to secular authorities, this program “goes a
long way to address those impediments.”

In the case of Rubin, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office says he
offered Weberman’s alleged victim and her boyfriend — who is the
“outcry witness” in the case against Weberman — $500,000 to drop the
case. Rubin allegedly offered to get an attorney for the couple who
could teach them how to be uncooperative with authorities. Rubin even
suggested that the couple flee the country to avoid testifying against
Weberman.

The Berger brothers each have been charged with second-degree
aggravated harassment for allegedly intimidating the victim. Jacob
Berger also faces third-degree criminal mischief for tearing the
certificate off the wall. 

If convicted, the Bergers each face up to a year in jail. Jacob
Berger’s looking at up to four years in prison for the criminal mischief
charge.

“Intimidation of victims and witnesses in sex abuse cases in the
Orthodox community is what has made prosecuting these cases so
difficult. Victims were afraid to come forward because they would be
threatened and shunned in their communities,” Hynes said in June. “My office
spares no effort to conceal and protect the identities of sex crimes
victims, regardless of their cultural or religious background.
Hopefully, these indictments serve as an example that we will not
tolerate individuals who try to interfere with the pursuit of justice.”