Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rabbi convicted of molesting daughter

Last updated March 12, 2009 7:18 a.m. PT
Rabbi convicted at NY trial of molesting daughter
NEW YORK -- An ultra-orthodox rabbi who cross-examined his own daughter at his sex-abuse trial has been convicted of molesting her as a child.
A Brooklyn federal jury convicted 59-year-old Israel Weingarten of five counts of traveling outside the country to have sex with a minor.
The 27-year-old victim says she had been molested while living with her family in Hasidic communities in Belgium, and on trips to England and Israel.
Weingarten, a member of the Satmar community in suburban Monsey, acted as his own lawyer during the trial, delivering a rambling opening statement in which he claimed he was being falsely accused by a daughter who rebelled against a strict upbringing.
Jurors sided with the victim, who turned her head and wept during cross examination, but then lashed out at her father, saying from the stand: "My feeling from your molesting me was utmost fear and blackmail and years of torture ... Didn't I get hit enough?"
After the verdict, the daughter said being questioned by her father was "like being molested again." She added: "I wish he wasn't my father."
The woman has changed her name, but came forward and identified herself in open court as the daughter of the rabbi. She appeared at the trial wearing a pants suit and with her hair down - a mainstream look she said her father had scorned.
She told jurors that once she grew up she left the faith and hoped "to forget everything that happened to me," mindful that her father had warned her she "would never be able to prove it." But she went public at the urging of her mother, who was embroiled in a custody dispute with her father.
She told the FBI in 2003 that she was victimized since age 9. Prosecutors alleged Weingarten sexually abused her, sometimes on a daily basis, and moved the family around to help conceal his crimes.
Sentencing was scheduled for April 3.

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