Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Justice or Witch-hunting?


rapist - or not?
This week a Hasidic man was convicted of having sex with an underaged girl.

What is interesting to me is that this type of trial, regarding underage sex, seems to be unique in the American legal system. I cannot think of another case where a person could be tried and convicted based solely on the testimony of one witness, with no other evidence that any crime even occured.

Let's say for example a young man would come to the police and tell them that eight years ago when he was 12 his next door neighbor John Doe tried to poison him. John gave him a bottle of soda and he drank it. After he drank it he fell down feeling extremely ill while John taunted him saying that it was poisoned. The boy was unconscious and vomiting for hours until he gradually over several days recovered. The boy never went to a doctor or called the police or told anyone about what had happened because he was afraid of revenge from John Doe. Now however the young man has gotten older and summoned up the courage to turn John Doe in. John Doe, a well respected middle aged family man with no prior criminal record, denies vehemently that anything like this ever happened.

Would any district attorney prosecute John Doe and would any jury convict him? I really doubt it.

If instead of poison soda, the crime was sex, them seemingly John Doe could very well end up doing many years of hard time. I wonder why that is exactly?

Seemingly the public considers adults having sex with minors to be a very serious threat and therefore Draconian methods must be used to stop it.

On the other hand however apparently any American man who has ever been acquainted with an underage girl, including his own daughter, had better hope and pray that this girl never becomes hostile and vindictive toward him. If she does and if she can tell a very emotional although fictitious story of underage sex with him, he may spend decades in prison while the false accuser is hailed as a courageous heroine.

Does ever generation perhaps feel an emotional need for its own Salem witch trials to somehow exorcise its evil and cleanse the community?

38 comments:

The Bald Guy said...

I am damn tired of this. The facts presented in the case (plaintiff vs defendant's testimony, evidence of intimidation, etc) were enough to remove reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds, enough to convict him. The jury took their role seriously, deliberated, guilty on all counts. End of story, at least until appeal.

I'm tired of the "go to" excuse that the plaintiff is "lying and doing this just to be vindictive." Has it ever occurred to you that given the risks plaintiff and family took to pursue this, the presence of those risks alone is a point in plaintiff's favor?? Stop the hand-wringing about "DNA evidence" and such - no such evidence is REQUIRED to convict, nor is such evidence required to strongly suggest causation or correlation (i.e. metzitza).

As for sex crimes, why shouldn't their prosecution be more draconian? Our children are, after all, the most precious commodity we have, is it not? Aren't children one of the most vulnerable and defenseless demographic categories we have? Who will speak for them?

Stop whining. The American justice system is flawed, but it works quite well, for a man-made system. This is not a witch hunt, not anti-Semitism. Stop playing these old cards. This is a conviction of a sex crime offender who took advantage of a young, vulnerable child. Period.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, unless you can demonstrate to the contrary, I know of no other situation in America today where such severe punishments are daily meted out on such slim evidence. It will be interesting to see if future generations look at this as enlightened justice or cruel barbarity, as we now look at witch burning. There too simply a malicious child pointing a finger at an adult could lead to the gallows.

jewish philosopher said...

The idea that one person's testimony is sufficient to establish both that a crime took place and that a certain person is the perpetrator sounds a lot like "spectral evidence".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectral_evidence

natschuster said...

Lots of people have had convictions overturned because of DNA.

And there is something called false memory syndrome. People can remember clearly things that never happened.

Dave said...

I wonder about the makeup of the jury. Where they Orthodox Jews?

In this kind of crime physical evidence is often hard to come by, since the compliant is usually lodged well after the offense. It then comes down to an analysis of whose testimony is more credible. It would be interesting to hear the juror's comments.

Dave said...

BTW in the US, where the criminal justice system grinds away without favoritism, the Satmars can whine and complain all they want. Unless some appeal overturn the conviction, Weberman will spend a lot of time behind bars.

Here in Israel the Satmars would be out in the streets rioting and threatening the judges and prosecutors, and the government, in order to quiet things down (and mollify coalition partners) would "review" the case.

I think the Satmars are getting what they deserve, after covering up the problem all these years and preventing cases from going to the "goyim". Let them sulk, and perhaps do a little soul searching about their fakokte values.

jewish philosopher said...

As I point out, Orthodox Jews are apparently far less frequently convicted of sex offenses than gentiles and to insist that Jews are far more successful at avoiding criminal prosecution than gentiles is an ancient anti-Jewish canard which I think should be retired at this point. 

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

I'm not the first person to compare the current child sex abuse prosecutions to witch trials.

http://www.witchhuntmovie.com/exonerated.html

Apparently teachers are at high risk of being victimized.

http://www.thecrimereport.org/viewpoints/2012-05-teachers-and-sex-abuse-be-wary-of-the-witch-hunt

as well as fathers in a divorce

http://www.allencowling.com/false14.htm

מורדיא דלברות said...

oh, please. Please. Why doesn't anyone take into account that he had "counseled" her without a counseling license BY HIS OWN ADMISSION? Does that make him trustworthy? What about the fact that he ran his "modesty squad" and believed he was saving the lives of his "patients", as he told the jury? His own testimony and behavior got him convicted!

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently unless you call yourself a "licensed mental health counselor" there is no license required to give people advice in exchange for money.

http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/mhcbroch.htm

Weberman allegedly is affiliated with some sort of "modesty committee" which has allegedly gone as far as physically threatening women who behave immodestly. That's two accusations one top of the other, no criminal conviction, and I don't know what that has to do with rape.

I guess if you just hate Jews, you don't need logic.

Again, it is hardly Orthodox Jews who are the main targets of these very suspicious convictions. The primary targets seem to be very non-Jewish public school teachers and fathers going through a divorce. However it could be any man whom a child or young adult chooses to point a finger at. Literally any man could be next.

Anonymous said...

JP- I am a lover of Orthodox Judaism. Perhaps it did occur, perhaps it didn't.
the fact is, it does not occur frequently in the orthodox society, which is why it is so appalling.
there are definatley Jews who have issues and dont follow the Torah as they should.
We are human beings who are imperfect, and some people have massive issues.
It bothers me is that people decide that Othodox Jews are bad becasue of a singular case that happened. These things happen everywhere, probably most unusually in Orthodox Judaism as it is the antithesis of what we stand for. People shouldnt make negative genralizations based on one incident.
Antisemitism palys a part when people blow the case up out of proportion and make generalizations.
Why dont they blow up the good things of Orthodox Judaism?
That you'll never hear them do.
Come take a walk and find out about all our wonderful organizations they run. How they look out for one another and take care of each

Anonymous said...

"Literally any man could be next."

Any person, really. If someone makes an accusation against another, the absence of physical evidence makes the case one of someone-said/someone-else-said.

In this case, Nechemya Weberman was found to be less credible than his accuser. Even if Weberman was completely innocent, the whole thing can hardly be called a witch hunt. He was given due process. he had a capable lawyer. He had benefit of supporters and a real defense.

Witch hunts, historically, targeted social outsiders. Weberman was anything but.

One accused man lost a single case. Now, I understand he has other accusers.

JP, do you believe the Hasidic community covers up child sexual abuse? Do you agree with the intimidation practices of the "modesty committees"? When can we expect to see you defend the victims, or are you only interested in maintaining the illusion that real Jews don't sexually abuse children?

jewish philosopher said...

"Any person, really."

It's almost always men.

"Nechemya Weberman was found to be less credible than his accuser."

So were accused witches.

"He was given due process. he had a capable lawyer. He had benefit of supporters and a real defense."

Maybe witches did too.

"Witch hunts, historically, targeted social outsiders"

Regular community members hanged at Salem. Someone who sounded "credible" came along and said "In a dream John Smith appeared to me and said he was a witch."

"do you believe the Hasidic community covers up child sexual abuse"

Let's do an experiment. Join a Hassidic community and try having sex with random kids. Afterwards tell me how your fellow Hassidic Jews reacted. If you're still alive, that is. 

"Do you agree with the intimidation practices of the "modesty committees"?"

Shunning is OK. I have right to choose my friends. I have a right to expel who I want to from my private school. Violence, if it happens, no.

"When can we expect to see you defend the victims, or are you only interested in maintaining the illusion that real Jews don't sexually abuse children?"

When I see some convincing evidence that someone is a victim.

Dave said...

JP, your arguments just boil down to tribal "looking after your own" being a crybaby. I don't see this blog ranting about wrongly convicted blacks or the very many other potential injustices in this world. But an untra-orthodox Jew convicted, OMG its the end of the world, it can't be, he must be innocent, bla bla bla.

Nobody says that "Jews" are more successful at avoiding criminal prosecution. Hasidic Jews are. The readily admit to doing everything possible to avoid going to the gentile courts. So I'm sure that other crimes too, like theft, etc-- they don't get reported because the community handles it on their own. There enough leaks about this behavior that goes on inside the community to lend credibility to this.

jewish philosopher said...

"JP, your arguments just boil down to tribal "looking after your own" being a crybaby."

I think that's kind of universal. If a few thousands American are murdered it's a huge national catastrophe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks

In the Congo 45,000 people a month are dying because of an ongoing civil war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Congo_War#Continuing_death_toll

I don't hear a lot of Americans going crazy about that.

"The readily admit to doing everything possible to avoid going to the gentile courts."

As opposed to African American, Hispanics, Asians, white people or anyone else in the United States who, like model citizens, run straight to the nearest police station and turn themselves as soon as they commit a crime.

I am hardly the only person who has pointed out that the prosecution of sex abusers in the United States is a little suspicious and extreme.

http://www.economist.com/node/14164614?story_id=14164614

Consider the case of Rebecca Nurse, a well respected and pious elderly woman in Salem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Nurse

The young Ann Putnam Jr. and the other children would break into fits and claim Nurse was tormenting them. As a result, she was hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692.

How much different is that than a man being condemned to many years in prison based on nothing except the emotional, dramatic, "convincing" testimony of a single child or young adult?

Anonymous said...

JP:

We’re not familiar enough with the details of this case – what the jury saw and heard. We don’t know enough (from our nose bleed seats) to condemn their process. But it is worth a serious investigative look – to see if your concerns have real merit.

I think you’ll find that generally a jury is not a particularly naïve group.

Tuvia

jewish philosopher said...

"The trial of Mr. Weberman, which began on Nov. 26, was a difficult one because there was no physical evidence; the trial hinged on the credibility of Mr. Weberman, who is well connected and powerful in his community, and that of a young woman who had been shunned for being a rebellious teen."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/nyregion/hasidic-man-found-guilty-of-sexual-abuse.html

"However the young Ann Putnam Jr. and the other children would break into fits and claim Nurse was tormenting them. Such so-called "spectral evidence" was allowed into the trial to show that Satan was afflicting others in the community at the behest of the accused."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_Nurse#Accusation_and_trial

Any parallel here?

Also from the above NYT article:

Rabbi Yosef Blau, a victims’ advocate and the spiritual supervisor of Yeshiva University, said he hoped that the Satmar community would now be forced to change how it dealt with troubled young people, who, like this young victim, had been sent to counselors without training or accountability, instead of licensed professionals.

“It’s a system which allowed this abuse to take place,” he said. “It involves no scrutiny, no controls, and is a terrible way of dealing with children who have issues, whatever those issues might be.”

But in today's NYT:

Yeshiva University says it will review newly published claims that it had ignored accusations that teachers abused its high school’s students long ago.

In an interview from his home on Thursday, Rabbi Gordon denied the allegations and asked to know the identity of his accuser.

“I heard the rumors years ago, but they’re simply rumors,” he said. “If I give it any credence at all, it is as an attempt by a disgruntled student to cast aspersions on a former teacher.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/nyregion/report-of-sexual-abuse-rattles-manhattan-yeshiva-campus.html

In a witch hunt atmosphere, the only question is "Who's next?" Every American man should probably have a plan in place regarding his finances, family, etc in case he'll be spending a few years locked up. When are we going to be able to buy "prison insurance" as we now buy life and disability insurance?

Anonymous said...

From what I understand there was a preponderance of circumstantial evidence here supporting her testimony. Such as; he went shopping for bras and panties with her, lied about it and finally admitted to it after being confronted with the credit card records. He when for long trips by car to secluded places

Anonymous said...

(Cont.) there was also a social worker who worked with the victim who testified that after having seen many such cases this had the hallmarks of being true (in fact I beleive it was a social worker that pushed the girl to come forward..... And there was allot more, this is just from reading bits and pieces online etc.

Onionsoupmix said...

I'm thinking if your daughter was raped by this man, or alleged to have been so violated, you'd be singing a different song.

Or maybe not. Maybe you're the guy who doesn't give a shit about little kids who suffer at the hands of evil men.

Yes, it is true that it was her word against his. Are you familiar with the fact that she didn't report and was very reluctant to come forward. Are you aware that the reporter was a teacher at a school- a mandated reported? Are you aware this girl was offered a 500K bribe to disappear and not testify? And that she refused? These are not the actions of a vengeful, witch-hunting girl. But don't let the facts get in the way of your misogynistic views.

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently Weberman collected money for an organization called B’lev V’nefesh, whose purpose was to support Weberman so that he could afford to assist poor girls free of charge.  The credit cards from Weberman's organization were used to buy items from two orthodox Jewish woman's clothing stores.

http://gothamist.com/2012/12/06/alleged_orthodox_sex_abuser_may_hav.php

Possibly his wife or daughters went shopping with funds which he had expressly collecting to support himself.

I don't see how that really proves anything. There were probably charges to grocery stores too.

jewish philosopher said...

"I'm thinking if your daughter was raped by this man, or alleged to have been so violated, you'd be singing a different song. "

I'm thinking if you were falsely accused was by this girl you'd be singing a different song.

Ducky's here said...

The Satmars are behaving like the Roman Catholic church except parishioners are concerned that pedophile priests were not prosecuted.

The Satmars defend the pedophiles in the manner of a cult, which they are.

jewish philosopher said...

Ducky, what will you do if tomorrow someone accuses you?

And I suppose teachers and divorcing fathers are also cults

http://www.thecrimereport.org/viewpoints/2012-05-teachers-and-sex-abuse-be-wary-of-the-witch-hunt

http://www.allencowling.com/false14.htm

natschuster said...

I recall reading about a case of an Orthodox man ho was accused of molesting his 13 year old daughter by his ex-wife. The accusation came a day after he filed for more visitation, and a year after the alleged crime took place. There was no corroberating evidence, just the ex-wife's testimony. Sven people testified that the man was with them at the time. The D.A. said that the jury should disregard the sworn testimony of the witnesses because Orthodox Jews will lie. the judge should have declared a mistrial, but he didn't. The man was found guilty.

The D.A. in the New Square Four case said that the jury should find the defendants guilty because Chasidim have to steal because they don't go to college.

Willim Kuntsler, during the trial of Rabbi Meir Kahane's ,murderer, said that the jury should disregard the testimony of the prosecutions witnesses because they were wearing yarmulkas.

It seems that an Orthodox Jew can;t get a fair trial in America.

natschuster said...

In Shlomo Rubashkin's case, the judge worked with the prosecutors. That, by definition, means he didn't get a fair trial.

And he got a much harsher sentence than people who committed much worse crimes.

If a Jew can't get a fair trial in America, is it any wonder that some Jews will help other Jews avoid a trial in an American court?

Dave said...

Would all of you stop whining, please?

Jews have unprecedented status in America and most would consider them to be previledged.

The comments and post do not reflect the entire context and positive reality of Jewish life (including Orthodox) life in the US.

Like most of your posts, JP, you take a few seemingly exceptional cases and unjustifiably generalize. I realize that part of your goal is to get clicks and comments, but cheap comments about victimization of men is really sinking low. I don't know about you, but I certainly have not lived in fear of being accused of rape.

jewish philosopher said...

"Would all of you stop whining, please?"

If crticizing governmental oppression is a bad thing, I think you should email Amnesty International.

"I don't know about you, but I certainly have not lived in fear of being accused of rape."

I'm sure that no one does until it happens to them.

JRKmommy said...

It's not about "hating Jews". I love my fellow Jews - in fact, I love them enough that I don't want any innocent Jewish child to be molested.

Contrary to what people may think from CSI, not all crimes are matters where there is physical evidence. Issues of credibility come up all the time.

It's not simply a matter of a victim making a statement and automatically seeing the accused convicted. There was a long trial, with examination and cross-examination of the witnesses, and going in detail over the events in question (including long car rides in which the victim and accused were alone, and counselling sessions behind locked doors).

There is a poster on imamother.com who had been a member for years, and is a committed member of the Satmar community. This has been verified. She would be the last person to want to attack them. Someone close to her had also been molested by Weberman.

jewish philosopher said...

In witch trials as well the "witnesses" were subject to extensive questioning and interrogation and quite frequently when one accusser pop up a bunch of others would jump on the band wagon and accuse her as well.

I think if a child comes into an emergency room with an adults semen on her, that is pretty much an open and shut case. If there are just some suggestive emails, text messages and/or testimony by other witnesses of sexual behaviour then that might also be convicing. However going on nothing except the alleged victims testimony sounds very fishy to me. And this isn't a rabbi problem. As I point out above, any man could be next and I'm not the first to use the term "witch hunt".

About Weberman's office being locked, do we know that from anywhere except the alleged victim?

JRKmommy said...

Depending on the nature of the crime, there may simply not be physical evidence.

There are murder cases where the body is too badly decomposed to determine a cause of death, and even "bodiless" murder cases.

In many other cases, physical evidence is often excluded for technical reasons (such as unlawful search), meaning that courts will rely on witness testimony to gain a conviction.

jewish philosopher said...

Murder convictions without a body are very rare and even then there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence besides of course a person who has gone missing under very suspicious circumstances.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_conviction_without_a_body#More_recent_cases

I can't think of any other case where suspects are convicted of crimes where both the occurrence of a crime and the guilt are both based solely on the testimony of one witness, who is often coming forward only years after the events.

JRKmommy said...

Uttering death threats is a crime for which there is often only one witness to both the crime and the identity of the perpetrator.

Same for simple assault.

You can also have a single witness with any conspiracy charge. There are cases where someone tries to hire a hit man who turns out to be an undercover cop or a snitch.

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding assault, I think the prosecuter would want to see medical regards and photographs proving that someone was injured. Regarding death threats and conspiracy, I don't think you'll get a conviction without a confession, audio recordings or third party witnesses. "He said/he said" I don't think would cut it.

jewish philosopher said...

For example if John Doe walks into the police station tomorrow and says "five years ago, Jacob asked me to kill someone and I refused", I doubt that I would even be indicted based on that alone.

JRKmommy said...

Charges can and will be laid based on solely the victim's complaint.

In Canada, simple assault does not require any physical injury. That's only required for Assault Causing Bodily Harm.

If there is no guilty plea, the case goes to trial. At trial, proof beyond a reasonable doubt in required. No accused person can be compelled to testify, as they have the right to remain silent. However, without testimony from the accused, there may be nothing to contradict the victim's testimony. Putting an accused on the stand, however, is risky, because they are then subject to cross-examination. A lawyer cannot put a client on the stand if they know for a fact that the client will perjure themselves. So, a lawyer can have a strong hunch that their client is lying and still have them testify, but if the client admitted that they actually did the crime, then the lawyer cannot have them testify. This rule is the same in Canada and the United States.

JRKmommy said...

natschuster:

Do you realize that you posted two comments, one after the other, that basically cancel each other out?

The first claims that prosecutors told jurors in certain cases that the evidence of some Orthodox Jews may not be reliable, while the second says "is it any wonder that some Jews will help other Jews avoid a trial in American courts?" If the second point was true, wouldn't that mean that the prosecutors had a valid concern?

Incidentally, do you have any proof that the prosecutors did in fact make those statements as quoted? A link to the reported cases or transcripts?

jewish philosopher said...

"Charges can and will be laid based on solely the victim's complaint."

The question is though that outside these child sex cases how often does a prosecutor get a felomy conviction without any confession, physical evidence or third party witnesses?

natschuster said...

natschuster:

Do you realize that you posted two comments, one after the other, that basically cancel each other out?

The first claims that prosecutors told jurors in certain cases that the evidence of some Orthodox Jews may not be reliable, while the second says "is it any wonder that some Jews will help other Jews avoid a trial in American courts?" If the second point was true, wouldn't that mean that the prosecutors had a valid concern?

The reason Jews avoid a trial is because they will not be treated fairly. The first thing is the cause of the second thing.