A counselor gets 103 years in prison after being convicted on 59 counts of sexual abuse against a young girl he counseled for years.
The conviction came against Nechemya Weberman, a prominent member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, and after the sentence was announced on Monday it sent shockwaves through that community.
Though activists are happy that the counselor gets 103 years for his crime, it is only after years of appeals to law enforcement that justice came to the community, CBS News reported. Many within the notoriously strict and insular community had been “agitating to bring media and law enforcement attention to the sexual abuse of children,” the report noted.
“The message should go out to all victims of sexual abuse that your cries will be heard and justice will be done,” State Supreme Court Justice John G. Ingram said.
The Weberman case is among the first to yield a conviction, in large part because the accuser was able to stand against many more defensive members of the community and testify. Four members of the community had been convicted of conspiracy and bribery last year of trying to silence the girl.
In an editorial for the New York Daily News, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said he hoped the counselor’s conviction would send “a very clear and unmistakable message to people in certain parts of the Orthodox community — it is time to start protecting victims rather than defendants.”
Some believe the fact the counselor gets 103 years for his crime could be a bad thing to bringing more justice to the community. Ben Hirsch, spokesperson for sexual abuse support group Survivors for Justice, said Weberman’s supporters could use the harsh sentence as an argument against coming forward again in the future.