By Pearl Gabel and Simone Weichselbaum (NY Daily News)
May 17, 2012
The rowdy protest in Williamsburg's Hasidic enclave Wednesday night blasting supporters of an accused child molester was organized by the teenage victim's boyfriend.
Hershy Deutsch, 24, used Facebook to spread the word about the protest outside the fundraiser for Nechemya Weberman, 53, at the Continental Caterers dining hall at 75 Rutledge Street.
"I see her crying every day," Deutsch told The News about the campaign for his 17-year-old girlfriend. "I was a victim too. I know how it feels."
Cops busted Weberman in February 2011 after the teen reported he was her therapist and forced her during counseling session to perform sex acts starting when she was 12-years-old.
Religious law prohibits a Jew from reporting another Jew to authorities. Ultra-religious victims often ask for rabbinical approval before talking to cops or prosecutors.
Yiddish posters in the neighborhood advertised the legal defense fundraiser for Weberman, a respected counselor at neighborhood Satmar yeshivas.
The victim was blasted in the posters which also insisted Weberman was innocent.
About 100 protestors showed up at the event which was attended by more than 1,000 Hasidic men.
Many held signs reading "protect victims not abusers," and traded harsh words with Weberman's supporters. Cops arrested two people charging them with disorderly conduct.
"It is a huge shift. People were standing up for themselves," said Joel Engelman, 26, raised Satmar in Williamsburg and one of the first to go public with charges of sex abuse in 2006.
"A lot of young people came out last night. This wouldn't happen here a year ago."
Deutsch, founder of Jewish neighborhood watch group Kings County Security Patrol, said he was abused at the age of 14 by a camp counselor, but has never reported the incident.
"Coming forward in the community is intimidating," said Deutsch, who started dating the teen around the time Weberman was arrested.
The victim's mother said she "wasn't against" the relationship between her daughter and Deutsch.
"He feels obligated to help her," she said. "He feels that it is his responsibility to help her."
Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes who has been criticized for working too closely with rabbis who advise victims, championed those who turned out to protest.
"Anytime people support the victim we encourage that," said Schmetterer.