NEW YORK (JTA) — Four haredi Orthodox men in Brooklyn were charged with attempting to intimidate and bribe an alleged sexual abuse victim and her boyfriend in a criminal case against a local counselor.
According to the indictment filed June 21, Abraham Rubin, 48, offered the alleged victim and her boyfriend $500,000 to recant testimony against Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed psychotherapist awaiting trial on charges of sexual abuse. Weberman has been accused of 88 counts of sexual misconduct and allegedly molesting the victim in his home and office when she was aged 12 to 15.
Rubin and brothers Joseph Berger, Jacob Berger and Hertzka Berger pleaded not guilty on charges of bribing a witness, witness tampering, coercion and aggravated harassment at their arraignment in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn and were released on bail, according to reports. The Bergers are accused of trying to pressure the couple into not testifying by threatening to remove a kosher certificate in a restaurant owned and operated by the boyfriend.
It is the first case resulting from a new task force to address witness intimidation and harassment in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. The task force was established in May by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in response to media reports that the community regularly hid cases of child sexual abuse from the authorities.
At a news conference announcing the indictments, Hynes defended his office’s action and said that intimidation of victims and witnesses in sex-abuse cases in the Orthodox community has made prosecuting cases difficult.
“Hopefully these indictments serve as an example that we will not tolerate individuals who try to interfere with the pursuit of justice," Hynes said.