Daughter of Orthodox Rabbi Tells Court of Father's Sexual Abuse

By Scott Shifrel
New York Daily News
March 3, 2009

Rabbi Israel Weingarten listens as his daughter testifies during his federal trial for allegedly sexually abusing her starting when she was 9.

The 27-year-old daughter of an Orthodox rabbi tearfully described in Brooklyn Federal Court the day 18 years ago when her father began sexually abusing her.

"I felt alone, scared, confused," the woman said as her gray-bearded father sat on the other side of the cavernous courtroom shaking his head.

She said her mother was heating chicken soup and the family was gathering in the kitchen when her father, Israel Weingarten, called the girl to a bedroom and assaulted her.

She said she felt "confusion, deafening silence" after the initial incident, which she says was followed by years of abuse.

Wearing a bright orange scarf and a pants suit, the woman said music, books and long dresses were forbidden in the home and the tight-knit community she has now left.

Weingarten, defending himself against charges that he brought his eldest daughter between homes in Belgium and New York for sex, wore the traditional black leggings and long jacket of a Satmar as he gave a rambling and bizarre opening statement.

"I'm not used to talk to people like you," he said in heavily accented English. He praised his daughter, but said she changed after an alleged affair with a neighbor.

And he repeatedly tried to show that religious Jews are not that different, once even parting his jacket and exposing leggings he said are similar to those worn by George Washington.

"You see these pants, it remind you of something?" he said holding his jacket open during what was surely one of the strangest sights seen in a federal courtroom. "I'm not that much different when it comes to our forefathers ... the only thing is, we didn't want to change."

The testimony continues Tuesday, to be followed by Weingarten's eldest son and his ex-wife.



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