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Thursday, December 06, 2012 

More on the Satmar child abuse case

The judge in the case of accused child molestor Nechemya Weberman, the unlicensed therapist in the Satmar community, extended a production order for the victim following the case of 3 scoundrels who photographed her at the courtroom for potential intimidation tactics.

Now here's an interesting part: the accused is related to the school principal at the Satmar school the victim was being sent to:
The yeshiva principal who forced an Orthodox Jewish pre-teen to continue seeing the Hasidic counselor prosecutors say sexually abused her testified that her clothes and behavior drew disapproval from the leadership of the insular Satmar sect.

“It was brought to my attention her behavior, her modesty, was not like the other girls,” Benzion Feuerwerger, a principal at the United Talmudical Academy in South Williamsburg, testified today in Brooklyn Supreme Court. “The principals were not happy and it came to the attention of the other rabbis, too.”

The school would have expelled the teen if she stopped going to prominent Hasidic leader Nechemya Weberman, 54, for counseling after her manner of dress — including her tights and the open top button of her shirt — drew reproach from the conservative Satmar sect, Feuerwerger testified. [...]

Feuerwerger, who is Weberman’s first cousin, drew incredulous laughter from several Orthodox spectators when he testified that the modesty squad — or Vaad Ha’Tnius — didn’t exist.
Tsk tsk tsk. Call that the man's "taqqiya moment" if you will, but he sure violated the Commandment of Thou Shalt Not Lie. Just like various members of the spectators, I too am aware of the existence of these "modesty squads" that go around harrassing members of the community who they think violated their stupid standards. Let us be clear: making mountains out of a molehill over such ridiculous dress codes is a dumb thing to do, and will only put stress upon the girl even more.

That the defendant is related to the principal - whom you'll note happens to be a male in a school I figure is exclusively for girls - is something to ponder. It furthers the perception that the Satmars are as insular as they come, to the point where it's almost a family business, and a corrupt one in this case. Gothamist also notes that:
He claimed the parents demanded Weberman, who is not a licensed therapist, but the victim's parents testified previously that the school gave them a choice between sending their daughter to Weberman, or being kicked out of the school. Feuerwerger added the school did demand the girl’s parents pay $12,800, mostly as an upfront fee for Weberman’s services, if they wanted their daughter to stay enrolled.
Translation: he abetted a swindle of their money. Did he not know that Weberman had no license or genuine training? If he did, why was he even employing him? Maybe it's a "union thing", and a corrupt one at that.

Here's another NYDN article that brings up the modesty squad matter:
The recalcitrant teen had come to the attention of an internal committee of men called the Va’ad Hatznius, which helps enforce modesty rules — among 613 commandments Satmar members believe must be followed.

According to the testimony of another young woman who'd taken the stand Wednesday morning, you don't want to mess with Va’ad Hatznius.

“Isn't it true that masked individuals came into your bedroom in the middle of the night and seized your cell phone?” no-nonsense prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell asked Baila Gluck. “And that this is the type of action Va’ad Hatznius takes when Satmar don't follow the rules? And wasn't it traumatic for you?” Yes. Yes. And yes.
So a woman cannot own a cellular, and the modesty squad must be run almost exclusively by men (and if there's any women involved, they most likely cannot outrank the menfolk and do the men's bidding). And breaking and entering is considered fine in their neighborhoods.

I think it's a good that this is being reported and discussed. The Satmars, as mentioned before, are by far the worst of their kind, and the Neturei Karta clan, which may be affiliated with them to some extent, is just as bad. Their degrading tactics must be exposed if we're to help make this a better world.

Update: The Jewish Week has a report that exposes the modesty committees in the Satmar community and refutes what the terrible principal was trying to tell the court:
...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.

[...] Many observers believe that the relationship between Weberman, the Vaad and the school is something the leaders of Satmar do not want explored in any depth; they speculate that this likely accounts for UTA’s apparent reluctance this summer to respond to subpoenas for records on Weberman. That reluctance, it was reported, may have prompted Justice Ruth Shillingford to consider slapping the school with contempt charges (no such charges were brought and presumably UTA ultimately responded to the subpoena).

It also may explain why Feuerwerger, when questioned on the stand on Tuesday, denied knowing about the existence of the Vaad HaTznuis, a statement that drew laughter from observers in the courtroom. It also drew incredulous comments from current and former community members.

Ari Mandel, the founder of Zaakah, a grassroots group that has been organizing demonstrations in support of the alleged victim and other abuse survivors, told The Jewish Week he was “stunned” that Feuerwerger would make such a claim under oath. “Any 4-year-old in that community, a Shabbos goy in that community, knows what the Vaad HaTznuis is. Every chasidic community has [one].” (The Jewish Week has a copy of a document written on the letterhead of the Williamsburg Vaad.)

These sentiments were shared by Joel Engelman, himself a survivor of abuse in the Satmar community and an advocate.
So, what's that from the principal about their supposedly being no Satmar modesty committee again? Like I said, for people who allegedly uphold beliefs in the Torah, they sure aren't paying much attention to the 10 Commandments. Read the whole article.

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