Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Domestic and Sex Offense Expert, on Nechemya Weberman and Ultra-Orthodox Jews' Reactions to Sex Abuse Allegations

Nechemia Weberman At His Fundraising Party
If you have been following the story of Nechemya Weberman, an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man accused of being a child molester, you might have thought that it sounds all too familiar.

Weberman, 53, had been working as an unlicensed therapist in the uber-insular community. One of his patients, a young girl who attended "sessions intended to promote her religious practice," accused him of sexually assaulting her beginning when she was 12, according to the New York Times. The community has rallied behind him, it seems, with thousands attending a fundraiser for his legal defense Wednesday evening and a mere hundred people protesting in defense of the victim, who has been lambasted as a "liar."

Rewind to May 2011. The Voice detailed a similar saga taking place in El Barrio: Juan Caceres, a prominent leader of the Mexican community, had been convicted of repeatedly raping his own daughter. Instead of rallying behind her, they publicly villified her.

The Voice wanted to get a better understanding of why this shaming takes place. So we reached out to Grace Perez. She has worked as a sex abuse and domestic violence victims advocate in the New York metropolitan area for some 30 years and organizes the annual Brides March. What did she say?

Village Voice: The Hasidic community's reaction seems a lot like other tight-knit communities' reactions to sex abuse allegations. What's the deal?

Grace Perez: Society does not want to accept that this is a reality. That this does happen. Because it's so difficult. We have been indoctrinated to think, to believe, that our leaders, our clergy -- especially members of the cloth especially -- are people who wouldn't do something like this, that a father wouldn't do that to his daughter. It's very difficult to comprehend, to allow ourselves to accept as a fact that this does happen. We've come a long way as a society, but we're still there -- in denial.

VV: Can communities circumvent this pattern?

Perez: There has to be continued education at many many levels from the media, to the community, to schools, to everywhere, to everyone. Not just about victimization, but also about the fact that this does happen. And just because this is a member of a community's church and again, a leader, this does not make this individual immune from these behaviors.

VV: Aside from education, what has to happen in communities for victim-blaming to stop?

Perez: People who are in leadership positions, in this case people such as rabbis, need to take a stand and publicly denounce the behavior. When you start hearing from folks in positions where the community will listen and respect what they're saying, when it's uniform, that's truly when education is happening and is most effective. Someone from this community has to come out publicly. It doesn't have to even be to the media, it could be within the congregation to say 'This is unacceptable, we have a system, we have to let the system go through this process but this is unacceptable clearly and publicly.' And if there is someone who is thinking that but has not publicly said it to his community, then they are condoning this shaming behavior.

VV: In your experience, what does it actually take for someone to step forward?

Perez: People don't take action until it hits home in some form, until it affects someone that they know. People don't want to deal with this. It's too horrible of a thing. They don't want to imagine a father doing this to their daughters, their sons. Rabbis, priests, people who you've been raised to blindly trust and respect -- people whose words are right next to the creators' -- they don't want to deal with the difficulty. It's easy to speak about the total stranger, but it's not easy to talk about it when it has to do with your significant other, with a member of your church, with your father or your mother.

VV: Are there any challenges this young woman will face specific to the Ultra-Orthodox community?

Perez: Yes. Dating and courtship traditions. That's a very big deal in the Hasidic community. She's not going to be a part of that.That's going to be devastating to her because she has been groomed all of her life to prepare for that, and no family, let alone a young man, is going to be interested in her.

VV: Explain.

Perez: It's everything. They'll think that she's tainted. And the controversy, just affiliating yourself with her: They're always going to shun her and her family. They will say: "What did she do for him to have done that? If she said that he did this to her, what will she say in the future about her spouse, about her family's spouse?' and so on and so on. Because, again, and especially in the Hasidic community, they are still a community living within a community that's isolated -- especially the women.



UOJ gets results said...

Yahoo! News

A grand jury in Texas has decided not to indict a father who beat to death a man he found sexually abusing his young daughter.

"Under the law, deadly force is justified to stop a sexual assault," Lavaca County District Attorney Heather McMinn said on Tuesday at a press conference announcing the grand jury's decision. "All the evidence presented by the sheriff's department and the Texas Rangers indicated that was in fact what was occurring when the victim's father arrived at the scene."

McMinn added: "The substantial amount of evidence showed that the witness statements and the father's statement and what the father had observed was in fact what had happened that day."

Jesus Mora Flores was beaten to death on June 9 in Shiner, Texas, after the 23-year-old father discovered the 47-year-old Flores in a pasture on the family's ranch on top of his 5-year-old daughter with his pants and underwear down. (News organizations, including Yahoo News, are not naming the father in order to protect the identity of his daughter.)

A witness who saw Flores — a Mexican who legally worked at the ranch — "forcibly carrying" the girl into a secluded area of the property alerted the father, who followed his daughter's screams to the pasture, pulled Flores off her, and "inflicted several blows to the man's head and neck area."

After beating Flores, the father called 911. "I need an ambulance," the father told the dispatcher, according to 911 tapes released by police. "This guy was raping my daughter and I beat him up and I don't know what to do. This guy is fixing to die on me, man, and I don't know what to do. Come on! This guy is going to die on me!" he continued during the frantic, 5 minute call.

Emergency workers, as well as the daughter's grandfather and aunt, tried to revive Flores but could not. Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon said he found the distraught father crying, saying that he had not intended to kill Flores.

"He's a peaceable soul," V'Anne Huser, the father's attorney, said. "He had no intention to kill anybody that day."

The case has sparked a debate about whether the killing was justified.
"There are those ... who feel that as abominable as the actions of Flores were, he did not deserve a death sentence delivered through vigilante justice," Diane Fanning wrote on Forbes.com. "If I found a half-naked man on top of my 5-year-old daughter, I might not have the strength to kill him. But I do know I would jump on his back and try to rip his eyes right out of his head."

A Time magazine reader even suggested "lifetime free passes to Disneyland" should be awarded to the father for protecting his child: "Touch a kid. Die. Done."

Local residents in Shiner — which has a population of about 2,000 — supported the father, too.

"I think it was a good decision," Lamont Matthews told the Victoria (Texas) Advocate. "I would have done the same thing."

"The father has gone through enough," Gail Allen, another resident, told The Associated Press. "The little girl is going to be traumatized for life, and the father, too, for what happened. He was protecting his family. Any parent would do that."

"It's sad a man had to die," Michael James Veit said. "But I think anybody would have done that."

"In our opinion," Huser said Tuesday, "the story is over."

Charlie Hynes said...

The father should have been indicted and named to protect future perpetrators.

Mr. Ventana said...

Guma Aguiar's yacht has washed ashore in Florida without Guma onboard. There is currently a massive search underway on land, at sea and from helicopters & planes by the Coast Guard, State Fish & Wildlife agents, Broward County Sheriffs Deputies and dozens of local police forces.

Guma has said since his falling out with Leib Tropper that he fears for his life from Tropper and his own uncle Tom Kaplan who still backs Tropper. CBS Miami in fact are reporting that Ft. Lauderdale detectives are investigating his disappearance as "suspicious" and they fear Guma may be in grave danger.

Tropper once tried to frame Guma as attempting to throw out him out of a hotel penthouse window. Jerusalem police did not buy Tropper's story especially considering that hotel staff who witnessed the incident said Tropper is lying.

Anonymous said...

so is the whole webberman family screwed up

Old Torah Vodaas said...

Is this particular Weberman from the Malochim clan who were turfed out of YTV?

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Yes...a grandson.

Anonymous said...

is this a webberman related to rabbi webberman in miami

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Yes, the same family.