Orthodox Jewish counselor on trial in Brooklyn denies sex abuse

A religious counselor accused of sexually abusing a girl under his guidance for three years testified in a Brooklyn court Wednesday, denying it ever happened.

Nechemya Weberman told a courtroom packed with his supporters that he "never, ever" inappropriately touched his accuser. He also said he never sexually abused anyone inside his office where he counseled patients.

Defense attorneys said she fabricated stories as an act of revenge. She revealed to Weberman that she had a boyfriend at age 15 — forbidden in her community — and believed he told her parents about it. Both Weberman and his accuser belong to an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect.

Weberman has pleaded not guilty to 88 charges of sexual abuse and misconduct.

The ongoing trial has rocked the insular, tight-knit group of ultra-orthodox Jews, not only because of the shocking charges, but also because the case is being played out in a public court and the guarded society strongly discourages going to outside authorities.

The girl, who just turned 18, testified that she and her family were harassed and shunned for coming forward; her father lost his business and her nieces were kicked out of school.

During the trial that began last week, four men were charged with criminal contempt for snapping images of the accuser on the witness stand, and posting them online. And before the trial began, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes charged other men with trying to bribe the girl to drop the charges.

But she did not take the bribe, and testified for several days about the alleged abuse, detailing that the 54-year-old Weberman, who was not a licensed counselor, forced her to perform oral sex and act out porn films. She says the abuse lasted from 2007 to 2010.