NEW YORK -- A teenage girl was offered $500,000 to leave the country instead of testifying in an upcoming sex-abuse case against her former spiritual counselor in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, prosecutors said Thursday.
Abraham Rubin, 48, offered the bribe to the girl and her boyfriend, telling them justice would be better served if they didn't testify in the case against Nechemya Weberman, prosecutors said. Three other men also tried to harass the accuser into silence, they said.
Weberman, 53, has been accused of molesting the girl from ages 12 to 15. He has pleaded not guilty to sex-abuse charges, and he has been embraced in his community and defended as wrongly accused. The girl has been threatened, ostracized and called a slut and a troublemaker, family friends said.
Both the accuser and her boyfriend could be called to testify in the case. A court date was set for July 18.
The rallying around Weberman, suspected witness intimidation and ostracizing of his accuser reflects long-held beliefs in this insular community that problems should be dealt with from within.
The four men pleaded not guilty to charges including witness tampering, bribing a witness and coercion. Attorney Bruce Wenger said the men deny all the charges against them.