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Hasidic leader gets 103 years in child sex abuse case

By Jason Kessler, CNN
updated 3:59 PM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
A judge sentenced Nechemya Weberman to 103 years in prison Tuesday for sexually abusing children.
A judge sentenced Nechemya Weberman to 103 years in prison Tuesday for sexually abusing children.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We honestly and truly believe that this was a setup," defense attorney says
  • Nechemya Weberman, 54, had been found guilty on all 59 counts he was facing
  • The abuse began in 2007, when the girl's parents hired the unlicensed counselor
  • The case came to light when four men were accused of trying to bribe the victim

New York (CNN) -- An unlicensed counselor in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community was sentenced Tuesday to spend the rest of his life in prison after repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl in his care.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram handed Nechemya Weberman a 103-year-sentence without the prospect of parole.

Weberman, 54, was found guilty in December on 59 counts, including sexual conduct against a girl he was advising over the course of three years.

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"The abuse of a child cannot be swept under the rug or dealt with by insular groups believing only they know what is best for their community," District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.

The abuse began in 2007, when the girl's parents hired Weberman to help their then-12-year-old daughter. It continued -- mostly in his office -- until 2010, the district attorney's office said.

"I suffered great psychological damage and fell into severe depression," said the victim, whom CNN is not naming because she is a minor.

The case brought scrutiny on the Satmar Hasidic community, many of whom live in the insular Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

"We honestly and truly believe that this was a setup," said defense attorney George Farkas after sentencing. "He knows that his future lies in the appellate process."

The case came to light when four men were arrested and accused of trying to bribe the victim and her boyfriend to get them to drop the case against Weberman, a spokesman for the district attorney said.

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