Nechemya Weberman, an unlicensed therapist and powerful member of the Hasidic Jewish community of Brooklyn, will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of 59 counts of sexual abuse yesterday, reports the New York Times. After days of testimony from a victim who says she was repeatedly abused by Weberman starting when she was 12, a judge sentenced him to 103 years in prison, just short of the 117-year maximum. During her testimony, the victim, now 18, told Weberman that he "played around with and destroyed lives as if they were your toys, without the slightest bit of mercy.”
Weberman's crimes included various sexual acts with minors, sometimes during therapy sessions under the guise of helping girls become more religious. The case is the first in two decades Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes has brought against a member of the Satmar ultra-Orthodox community. While many criticize Hynes for not being aggressive enough toward Hasidic abusers, he says the self-silencing culture of the Satmar community is to blame. The case has divided the community, even leading to violence against a victim advocate.