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School Forced Girl into Counseling with Accused Molester, Prosecutors Say

By Sonja Sharp | December 5, 2012 8:29am

BROOKLYN SUPREME COURT — A principal at a large Hasidic girls school in Williamsburg used his position to funnel business to accused child molester Nechemya Weberman, prosecutors claimed.

Rabbi Benzion Feuerwerger, 42, a top administrator at United Talmudical Academy and Weberman's cousin, stuttered through allegations made in Brooklyn Supreme Court Tuesday that the school had forced Weberman's alleged victim to take counseling sessions with Weberman after she failed to adhere to its strict dress code.

"I asked that the parents should get outside help for counseling to explain that she has to come dressed like everybody else and behave like everybody else," Feuerwerger said.

"They told us they want Weberman."

But the mother of the accuser said her family had no choice. She testified Monday that she and her husband were told their daughter would be expelled from the school unless they signed a contract promising nearly $13,000 to Weberman for future counseling. 

The girl, who is now 17, started the sessions when she was 12. She complained that she was sexually abused by the unlicensed counselor who is a well-regarded member of Williamsburg's insular Satmar Hasidic community.

That counseling was meant to help the teen reign in her behavior, Feuerwerger said Tuesday. Though the girl maintained excellent grades, she frequently showed up to class with the button of her blouse over her throat undone and wore stockings that were insufficiently thick.

"The principals were not happy with her modesty and then it came to the rabbis' attention," Feuerwerger said. "The rabbis were not happy."

But when prosecutors pressed him for details about his family ties to Weberman and the defendant's deep debts to the school, the educator clammed up, frequently tugging his shoulder-length side curls as he struggled to answer.  

Despite calling himself the "man on top," Feuerwerger testified he knew nothing of the $73,000 prosecutors said Weberman owed the school or if the school had ever referred students to Weberman for counseling before.

When prosecutors presented him with a school report card written partially in English, he complained he had only a limited command of the language. Asked if any of the other 4,000 students at the school had ever come to class with buttons undone or the wrong brand of stockings, he said only, 'it could happen.'

On his feelings for Weberman, though, Fuererwerger was unequivocal.

"I know him personally, and for this reason I can say he is good," the principal said.