Monday, December 10, 2012
Embarrassed by the sex abuse trial of a Hasidic counselor, leaders of Williamsburg's pious Satmar sect are considering a different way to deal with rebellious teens: shipping them out of the country for treatment.
The idea comes as the jury weighs charges against the counselor, Nechemya Weberman, who prosecutors said molested a then-12-year-old girl referred to him because she wore supposedly indecent clothing, read People magazine and questioned God's authority in a religious school class.
Without addressing the allegations against Weberman, a Satmar official told the Daily News that leaders are considering ways to avoid similar accusations by victims.
"This was a wakeup call; nobody denies that," said Gary Schlesinger, who heads a nonprofit tied to Satmar leader Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum.
"Maybe we will send them to an Israeli program or a European program, and the kid will come back a different person."
A verdict is expected this week. Meanwhile, the Satmar community — where self-styled modesty police crack down on perceived transgressions — is riven by the victim's account.
"It's a horrible embarrassment," said Pearl Engelman, 65. "We represent ourselves as the Almighty's children. We don't want to be an embarrassment to God."
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