Friday, November 30, 2012
Four Orthodox Jewish men arrested for court pix of sex accuser
Four Orthodox Jewish men were hauled out of a Brooklyn courtroom and arrested yesterday after they allegedly used gangland tactics to intimidate a teen as she bravely testified about her alleged sexual abuse at the hands of a prominent Hasidic leader.
The sex-abuse trial of Nechemya Weberman was thrown into an uproar when the accused child molester’s supporters surreptitiously snapped iPhone pictures of the 17-year-old on the stand.
The four were nabbed after one of the images of the girl was posted to a Twitter account. Weberman, 54, is accused of sexually abusing the girl over three years — starting when she was 12 — after her parents sent her to him for counseling.
A day earlier, the alleged victim was left trembling after Weberman allegedly glared at her through a glass door to the courthouse conference room where she sat during a break in her testimony.
Yesterday, the judge lashed into the four men — all members of the insular Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism in Williamsburg, of which Weberman is a leader — for outing the young woman as she testified about alleged sex abuse that prosecutors say Weberman made her endure during what were supposed to be counseling sessions.
“You know about the Torah, you know about rabbinical courts. This is a civil court!” Supreme Court Justice John Ingram thundered to the four men after they were caught.
“Your phones will be held for possible criminal prosecution. You may wish to avail yourself of counsel.”
Lemon Juice, 30, Joseph Fried, 23, Yona Weisman, 23, and Abraham Zupnick, 23, were walked in handcuffs from Brooklyn Supreme Court to the Brooklyn DA’s Office for questioning.
They were facing criminal contempt charges that could carry up to a year in prison, a source said.
“I didn’t take a picture,” Weisman protested weakly.
“They’re on Weberman’s side. All they want to do is give her hell,” fumed Sori Schlafrig, 18, a friend of the girl. “I think they should rot in jail.”
After the men were removed, Ingram ordered all spectators to surrender their phones at the courtroom door, adding that photos were also taken of Weberman and a defense attorney.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you people! Turn off your phones!” Ingram railed.
“Now we have to take all their phones, just like in a gang trial,” said a law-enforcement source. “It’s the same thing you have with the Bloods or the Crips.”
Earlier in the trial, the girl testified that her father lost his business and her nieces were forced to leave their school after she came forward.
Yesterday, white paper was taped over the glass partition through which Weberman glared.
In June, four ultra-Orthodox men also were charged with trying to force the teen to drop the case.