Prosecutors accused four Orthodox Jewish men of trying to use threats and bribes to convince a victim and a witness to drop a sexual assault case against an influential Williamsburg rabbi.
Brooklyn residents Abraham Rubin, 48, and brothers Joseph, Jacob, and Hertzka Berger were indicted in criminal court last Thursday for allegedly pressuring the victim and her boyfriend to not cooperate with law enforcement over the explosive sexual molestation case they filed against ultra-Orthodox rabbi Nechemya Weberman last year.
Rubin bore the brunt of the charges for allegedly trying to buy the victim’s silence with a $500,000 bribe and advising them to flee the country. He even offered to provide the witness with an attorney who could help them learn techniques so they could be uncooperative at the trial, according to authorities.
Prosecutors slapped Rubin with four counts of bribing a witness, two counts of tampering with a witness, and one count of coercion. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.
The Berger brothers received a separate indictment for pressuring the victim and the witness to stop helping law enforcement and threatening to close the witness’s kosher restaurant, according to investigators.
Jacob Berger allegedly went to the witness’s diner and ripped off its rabbi-issued kosher certification. The witness has since closed his Williamsburg cafe.
Joseph Berger received a charge of aggravated harassment. He faces four years in prison if convicted. His siblings face charges of coercion and one year in prison if convicted.
Civic and religious leaders have chastised Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes for concealing the identity of sex abusers in Brooklyn’s strictly conservative Hasidic communities — but Hynes said the indictments prove his office “will not tolerate individuals who try to interfere with the pursuit of justice.”
“Intimidation of victims and witnesses in sex abuse cases in the Orthodox community is what has made prosecuting these cases so difficult,” said Hynes. “Victims were afraid to come forward because they would be threatened and shunned in their communities. My office spares no effort to conceal and protect the identities of sex crimes victims, regardless of their cultural or religious background.”
A trial for Weberman, a Hasidic therapist who allegedly molested a 12-year-old girl from 2007 to 2010 during counseling sessions in his home-office, was set to begin this month but has been delayed.
Weberman and his attorney vehemently deny the molestation charges.Reach reporter Aaron Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2547.