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Four men were arrested for witness tampering in the run-up to the trial. During the trial, a further four men were arrested for intimidating the victim by photographing her during her testimony.
Rhonnie Jaus, head of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s sex crimes division, said that members of the ultra-Orthodox community have used previous lengthy sentences to try to dissuade victims from reporting abuse.
“They were told by people in their community, ‘Look at all the time that Lebovits got sentenced to,’” Jaus said, referring to Baruch Lebovits, a Brooklyn travel agent sentenced to up to 32 years in prison for abuse in 2010.
Lebovits’ conviction was overturned last year. He is currently awaiting a retrial.
Jaus said victims were told that their abuser would be better off in therapy than serving such a lengthy prison term.
But Jaus added that there are victims who “very much want their offender to get jail” time, including the victim in the Weberman case who suffered three years of “horrific abuse” and who spent four days on the stand giving testimony and being cross examined.
Jaus said that the victim’s “courage was extraordinary” and that she hoped the conviction and sentencing would have “a positive effect on people.”
She added: “I hope that it will inspire people to come forward and realize if they do come forward to the secular authorities they can achieve justice…[and] can have their day in court.”