|NYC Rabbi Found Guilty of Molesting His Own Daughter
By Joan Firstenberg
March 12, 2009
It's been a scene in a Brooklyn Federal Courtroom for the past few weeks. A Rabbi, a revered Yeshiva school teacher was on trial for allegedly sexually abusing his daughter over seven years. He was found guilty Wednesday, much to his daughter's relief.
He's an Hasidic rabbi, an extremely religious Jew, a man who used to teach at a Brooklyn Yeshiva. But he was charged with molesting his own daughter over a seven year period. He led his own extremely wordy defense. And on Wednesday, Israel Weingarten was convicted in a Brooklyn Federal Court on all counts in the case.
The Daily News reports Weingarten faces up to 50 years in prison when he's sentenced on April 3.
The victim, who is now 27 years old, dresses in modern clothes, wears makeup and has left the family's Satmar sect. She was asked how she felt being cross-examined on the witness stand by her father.
"Like being molested again. He thought he still had power over me. I think it was cruel to do that to me. I wish he wasn't my father."
The victim was brought into the courtroom by U.S. marshals for the verdict. She sat in the front row, opposite her six siblings, aged 13 to 23,all of whom support their father. She told the court she wanted to be in the courtroom for the verdict....
"I've been waiting my whole life for this. I didn't think the day would come when there would be justice, and I had to see it with my own eyes."
Weingarten's self-defense was buried in lengthy monologues of his Yiddish-inflected, heavily-accented English.
Weingarten’s now-adult son and daughter (the alleged victim) testified for the prosecution last week, and he cross-examined them intent on creating a credible alibi and defense for himself. His questions implied that his daughter was sexually promiscuous and slept with an adult neighbor, and that his son and daughter were sexually involved with each other.
The mother and a brother of the victim were not in court Wednesday for the sentencing, but testified earlier on her behalf, with the mother saying she caught the pair in bed once and the brother saying their father had brainwashed them. However, the other six of Weingarten's children lashed out at the victim, their mother and the government. Yakev Weingarten, who is 18 years old, had this to say.
"My sister? I didn't look at her. She's not even human,"
Another sibling, Chayeh, who testified that her mother molested the victim, said they will hire a lawyer to appeal their father's conviction.
Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said about the verdict
"It's an important vindication for victims who have the courage not only to survive the ordeal of sexual abuse, but to come forward despite outside pressure."
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