I wasn’t going to post about this. But based on new developments and the search for truth and Justice I feel compelled to do so. There is a troubling letter circulating signed by numerous Chasidic Rabbanim that has declared Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Weingarten innocent of the crime of sexually molesting his daughter. A crime for which he was convicted in a fair trial in an American court of law. These Rabbanim disagree and base this claim on their belief that the only actual witness in that trial – the victim - lied about the whole thing.
Based on the verdict and all the publicity surrounding the case, I would have strongly rejected this letter as being completely devoid of any reality. But the truth is they may not be wrong about that witness. She is a victim, but she may also be a liar.
I have been in contact with someone who was involved in the trial. This fellow is religious Jew but not a Chasid. Other than that I cannot divulge anything about him since he wants to remain anonymous for understandable reasons.
Because of this involvement he is intimately familiar with everyone involved in this case. He has determined that the rabbis are probably right about this witness and informed me that things are not necessarily as they seem. Here are his words:
She was raped and molested, but not by her father. It was by another member of the Satmar community in Antwerp, a man with considerable power there. But the victim blames her father, and she has good reasons to hate him. Her father committed many sins; mainly he refused to believe his daughter when she told him of the rape, and instead of being a loving father, exiled her to avoid a scandal; he conditioned his love for his children on their religiosity; he was probably a terrible husband in many ways.
Then again, his wife re-married without a Get, and most of the children accused her of molesting them. There was so much in this case that never came out, and what did was so horribly distorted. There is no lesson to derive from the facts of this case, as they appear in the public eye. Nothing you know is accurate.
What is the proof that she is a liar?
There were inconsistencies in her repeated telling of the story. The time lines didn't add up. Her descriptions of intimate details of her father’s anatomy were so incorrect it was clear she never saw him unclothed as she claimed. Social service agencies in two counties in New York found no evidence of sexual abuse, and did not believe this daughter ultimately. There were the statements of the other children. Many things pointed to the daughter’s lack of credibility.
Why was the daughter believed if details in her testimony were proven false?
She was believed for few simple reasons. First off, she does speak convincingly. Additionally, the information I presented to you was never, to my knowledge, introduced at the trial because Weingarten had no lawyer, and did not know how to get it into evidence.
As one might imagine all this took me quite a bit aback! Was there a miscarriage of Justice here?
After digesting all this information and looking at everything - to the best of my judgment justice was for the most part served.
First there is the victim impact statement that described a lifetime of physical abuse by the victims brother. Then there is Weingarten’s own brother’s revelation about a history of sexually abberative behavior as a student in Yeshiva. Behavior for which he was expelled. And there was a letter written in 2003 to the Beis Din of Rav Bentzion Wosner of Monsey by a distinguished Rav from Antwerp who believed that Weingarten’s daughter was indeed molested by her father in an almost incestuous way when she was a teenager. And despite its inconsistencies, her testimony was convincing enough for the presiding judge to convict and sentence him to 30 years in prison.
Did he actually do it? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But based on all considerations, I tend to believe the daughter. Would I however swear to it in a court of law? Absolutely not.
Was the verdict just? I think it probably was. One thing is certain. Yisroel Moshe Weingarten is no Tzadik. He is nothing like the description of that rabbinic letter that extols his virtues in no uncertain terms. He is - one way or another - a despicable human being. And it would be a travesty and Chilul HaShem to be involved in any campaign of Pidyon Shevuyim. I think it behooves some of the many Rabbanim who stood up for the victim over the years to come out publicly and completely repudiate this letter for the sake of righteousness and justice.