BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — A powerful leader in the Orthodox Satmar sect of Judaism was sentenced to 103 years in prison Tuesday for sexually abusing a young woman he was responsible for counseling.
The tearful victim, appearing before the court, said that the "gruesome invasion" left her unable to sleep at night and crying "until my tears ran dry."
Nechemya Weberman, 54, of Williamsburg, sat stone-faced as Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram announced a sentence that will put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
“[The victim's] youth was taken from her. It is this court's hope and prayer that she is able to put those years of abuse behind her,” said Ingram before sentencing Weberman. "Victims should report in order to stop these sexual predators. Your cries will be heard and justice will be done."
Weberman was convicted of more than 50 counts of sex abuse and other charges after subjecting a 12-year-old girl to repeated sexual abuse, including forcing her to watch pornography on his computer during her sessions in his office.
"The harm the defendant inflicted on [the victim] will last for a lifetime, so the maximum sentence is what the defendant deserves," said prosecutor Kevin O'Donnell after the sentencing.
The abuse lasted for three years before the woman was finally able to stop going to see him. She had been ordered to attend counseling with Weberman by her religious school, at a cost of more than $12,000 from her family, because the school said she bucked religious constraints.
The victim, who appeared at the sentencing, told the judge that Weberman ruined her life.
"I clearly remember how I would look in the mirror — I saw a girl who didn't want to live in her own skin," she told the court.
"A girl who couldn't sleep at night because of the gruesome invasion that had been done to her body…. A sad girl who wanted so badly to be a normal teenager but instead was being victimized by a 50-year-old man who forced her to perform sickening acts again and again for his sadistic pleasure.
"I would cry until my tears ran dry," she added. "I really hope and pray that this case sets a precedent and tells other victims, 'You have a voice.' I can finally look at my reflection and feel happy that God gave me the strength to go through this trial."
Weberman's attorney, George Farkas, continued to defend his client after the sentencing.
"Nechemya Weberman is innocent of the crimes charged and those of which he has been convicted," said Farkas. "Precluding Mr. Weberman from any opportunity to secure his release within his lifetime is cruel and unusual punishment."
Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement he hoped the sentence would make sure abuse would "not be swept under the rug or dealt with by insular groups believing only they know what is best for their community.”