Saturday, December 08, 2012

New York Hasidic Sex Abuse Trial Uncovers Extortion From "Modesty Committees"

According to Thursday's New York Jewish Week, testimony in the Brooklyn sex abuse trial of Nechemya Weberman --  an unlicensed "therapist" to whom schools of the Hasidic Satmar sect referred "wayward" girls for "help" -- has disclosed important information about the insular Satmar community:
the alleged victim ... has been subjected to intense pressure to withdraw her claim, including intimidation, harassment, social ostracism of her family and even a reported $500,000 bribe.... The case is also significant for the amount of public support the alleged victim has received ... from her family, close friends and advocates, many of whom have used social media to spread the word about the trial and appeared in court....
However, many people with ties to the chasidic community believe there is something even more important about the Weberman case — namely, what it exposes about the larger communal role played by chasidic "modesty committees" in communities like Williamsburg, Borough Park and Kiryas Joel. These groups — to which, sources say, Weberman was connected — originated years ago to guard the "purity" of the community by enforcing strict dress and behavior codes that characterize the insular chasidic lifestyle. But, insiders say, the tactics of these self-appointed, freelance modesty patrols have evolved from public shaming to extortion and threats....

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