Monday, January 21, 2013

Much More Than Her Word Against His

I just received a note from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz who asked me to post this important message. It was first posted on his website – but apparently it is down. His words follow:

Upon the request of Weberman's victim, I will be in her family's section of the courtroom tomorrow when she makes her "Victim Impact Statement" at Weberman's sentencing.

In advance of the sentencing, I'm posting this column below on our YES website and sending it to our broader email list in the hope it will help undo the cognitive dissonance that is such a barrier to effective child safety.

On a more positive note; here is a link  to a sample clip of the read-along, downloadable video of our children's safety book, Let's Stay Safe! We hope to release the full download soon on our website, and I will be glad to send you a link to it once it is posted.

Best regards,


We at Project YES believe that it is important to directly respond to the most common question posed by Weberman's supporters, namely, "How can a jury believe the word of one person over another, and on that basis convict him of charges that could have him serve a lengthy jail sentence?"  In other words, "Isn't is just her word against his?"

The reality is, though, that this trial was far more complex than a straightforward 'he said, she said' situation.

The 12 people sitting in the jury box did not base their decision solely on her story, but rather on wide-ranging evidence that supported the claim of the accuser and undermined Weberman's credibility.

It was ...
Her story that had been vetted by three trained detectives before the indictment was even made - and corroborated by the testimony of Sara Fried, the professional social worker who treated her when she showed signs of trauma upon entering a girl's school in Flatbush.
The bizarre methods Weberman utilized when he was "counseling" children; his partnership with the Va'ad HaTzniyus who referred his clients to him and his association with the Menahel of Satmar who presented as an untrustworthy witness.
Weberman's conduct/believability vs. her conduct/believability before the jury over many days of testimony, and his illogical defense that the victim fabricated the charges as a result of her vendetta against him. (It is important to note that research conclusively shows that the vast, overwhelming majority of children's accusations of abuse are genuine.)

When these components are analyzed and reflected upon - individually and collectively - it is understandable that the jury reached a unanimous verdict of guilty as charged on 59 out of 59 counts.


It is important to understand that the testimony of the accuser is subject to incredible scrutiny. Whenever an accusation of this kind is made, standard protocol is for the alleged victim to be interviewed separately by three investigators highly trained in detecting false allegations who then compare notes to determine the veracity of the accusation.

Imagine that you fabricated a false story that purportedly happened three years ago - e.g., you witnessed a robbery. You can prepare many of the details in your mind but under close scrutiny your story will eventually fall apart. Why? Since you can never anticipate the questions you will be asked, you will get tripped up in the myriad of tiny details. What was the weather like? Did you meet any people there? In which hand did the robber carry the loot?

The expression, "There is no such thing as a single lie," very much applies to the matter at hand. When you make up a story, you have no images to retrieve in your mind, so you need to remember the dozens or hundreds of little lies you told. When you tell the truth, all you need to remember is what actually happened.

As one who has accompanied more than a few victims to the authorities, I have seen firsthand how challenging it can be to convince a DA that a prospective victim is telling the truth to the extent that they are willing to press charges.

So, for starters, "her word" was already scrutinized individually and collectively by three trained detectives.

It was also supported by Sara Fried, the wholly credible and professional social worker who treated her for symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, believed her story, and reported it to the authorities. So credible was Mrs. Fried that she was mentioned in an interview with a juror as a significant factor in arriving at a guilty verdict.


The manner in which Weberman conducted his "counseling practice" was extraordinarily bizarre even to the laypeople in the jury box.

a)For starters, the obvious question of why an individual with no professional training was conducting "counseling sessions" for young girls for which he charged $150/hour does not have any logical answer.

b)The average counseling session takes approximately 45-60 minutes. Occasionally, when there are several parties involved, such as family counseling, two appointments will be scheduled back-to-back. Four-hour sessions with a 12 year old child such as Mr. Weberman performed for a three year period are unheard of, and three of them weekly is bizarre and, frankly, creepy.

c)Then there is the apartment with the triple-locked door behind which he "counseled" his victims. I'm certain that many of the jurors asked themselves if they would be comfortable leaving their 12-year-old daughter with anyone under those circumstances.

d)The method of payment was nothing short of extortion: the victim's parents were told that she could not return to school unless she became a "client" of Weberman and paid him $12,800 in advance for counseling. Again, imagine that several jurors have kids with issues (who doesn't?), and imagine how they would feel if they were strong-armed like that by their child's school principal?

e)Webermen's association with and his leadership role in the "modesty patrol" certainly played a role in his conviction. And why shouldn't it? Even to a casual observer the notion that several masked men would break into the bedroom of a young lady is abhorrent.

f)Weberman's referring source was his cousin Benzion Feuerwerger, who was the principal of the school that the victim attended. He came across very, very poorly on the witness stand. It was quite evident that he had very little in the way of formal training and exuded the image of a taskmaster/foreman instead of a child-centered educator. He clearly perjured himself when he said there is  no modesty patrol at all in Williamsburg. That statement provoked laughter from the audience and was frankly ridiculous.


Perhaps the most important issue in any trial is credibility. The victim came across as soft-spoken, honest and trustworthy. Weberman did not.

Typically, cross-examination of an abuse victim takes a few hours or less, but this one dragged on for days. There were excruciatingly trivial questions being asked about every minute and humiliating detail of what transpired three or five years ago. None of this broke the victim's resolve or dented her credibility. In fact, it may have angered the jury members that the defense seemed more focused on breaking her spirit and embarrassing her, rather than exposing her as having fabricated the story.

The defense attempted to paint her as wanting revenge against Weberman, but it was a poor argument - especially in light of the brutal terror campaign unleashed against the victim and her family. The jurors had to be asking themselves, "Why in the world would she be enduring this embarrassment and terror campaign if her story was not true?" One would need to be incredibly hate-driven to endure that much pain just to get revenge. And she certainly did not come across like that type of person.

Additionally, a careful look at the way the abuse was uncovered makes it all the more credible. Sara Fried, the social worker who treated the victim in her new school, testified that she finally uttered the words "I was molested" to her at the end of a session and then ran out of the office. That hardly sounds like someone whose motive was revenge.

According to Sara Fried's testimony, the victim told her about the abuse in December, 2010, and didn't name Weberman until February of 2011. If her story was fabricated in order to implicate Weberman, why would she then wait that long to name him as the abuser? And since she had just turned 16 in December, 2010, one would have to believe that someone that age could fool her therapist and also have the discipline to wait three months to name her alleged abuser.


To sum up: This trial and Weberman's conviction was not based on her word against his, but rather on the huge preponderance of evidence supporting his guilt. The incredible courage of his single young victim exposed the criminal double-life Weberman lead and the abusive crimes he committed against innocent children.

May his conviction and the long jail sentence he richly deserves send a loud and resounding message - Our Children Are Not Hefker.